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Au Contraire Mon Frere

February 6, 2014

“The Flipped Classroom isn’t a methodology. It’s an ideology”  Brian Bennett

For the next two weeks, I will be taking a look at the Flipped Classroom model.  As with many things I have experienced during my sabbatical, it’s been quite an interesting journey not only in terms of what I’m learnng but also because of the sharing of information and the change these exchanges are having on my way of thinking.  Ultimately, I am in the middle of a paradigm shift that I believe will change the way I teach for the better.

This paradigm shift began in October of 2013, when I had an epiphany about the Flipped Classroom model and wrote a blog about it in order to gain a better understanding.  What a great idea, I thought, students learn the basics at home, which gives me more time in class to help deepen their understanding while being there to teach them the skills that I believe are so important.

Then I read a great article on Edutopia by Andrew Miller called Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom.  It cautioned teachers that the model wasn’t a solution to all of the challenges facing us at teachers but that it could help us move towards a more “guide on the side” approach.   The flipped classroom is one way to help move teachers toward better teaching but does not ensure it.  The article made the case that while the model had its benefits, it also had its share of drawbacks.

I remember feeling so disappointed, like a kid with a new pair of shoes who gets them dirty for the first time.  Miller’s article forced me to pause and consider the implications of switching to the flipped model.  My big concern was that if I stopped lecturing in class and  instead posted my lectures on the internet, I would have a more challenging time transmitting the passion I have for the material.  When I’m lecturing in class, I can connect with each student to pull them into the topic, and I didn’t think I’d be able to do that using videos.  Also, I worried that not all learners would be able to access the videos due to their current constellation of strengths and weaknesses.  I figured students with weaker receptive language skills might struggle to process the material.  The more I thought about it. the more I believed the flipped classroom would become one of the many tools I could use to help students master the material.  Here is my blog post I posted on Twitter describing my thought process.

That’s when Dan Welty (@weltyteaching), a high school physics teacher, was kind enough to reach out to me:

Hi, well, I would argue that the flipped classroom gives the student more opportunity to learn. For those Ss who learn better by reading, they may supplement the video lesson with the corresponding textbook chapters. The kinesthetic learners may now have class time to be more active with the concepts.

I am always challenged to keep my videos fun and interesting, just like my old lectures. I keep them short (6-10 minutes) and infrequent (once per week) and find this keeps most students engaged and not bogged down. It does take me more work this first year around, but the payoff to get better use of class time is worth it to me.

As a side note – the collaboration I have enjoyed has been one of the favorite parts of my sabbatical.  Twitter and the blogosphere have created the biggest faculty room of all time in that I can post ideas and get feedback from people who have their own views of teaching.  A lot of times, the teachers I connect with are from other states or even countries but believe it or not, Dan taught at a school less than five miles from my house.

Here is my reply to Dan’s post on my blog:

Dan – What a small world. I live in S’boro!

Thanks so much for your reply – I really appreciate it. I’d like to get a better grasp by asking a few follow up questions:

Do you tend to assign the out of class work in different ways? So for example, students will watch a video on Monday, read a primary source on Tuesday and a textbook on Wednesday? Also – if you assign a reading assignment, do you also tell students that they can supplement their reading by watching a video you have created or one that’s on youtube?

Do you create all your own videos or do you get some of them from another source? Is so – where? I think I like the idea of making my own videos – but I know there have to be some great resources out there – I just don’t know about them yet.

DO you have the students do anything after they have finished watching the video to crystallize their thinking?

Final question – and I know you don’t know me from a hole in the wall – but could I come observe your class in the near future? Perhaps just spend a period or two watching the class in action?

Thanks for your help and have a great weekend!


Here is his informative reply:


I assign my own videos I make on the iPad using the app Explain Everything. Students are encouraged to read the textbook if they feel they need alternate explanations of the concepts. When I first flipped last school year (Mar-Jun) I did assign other teacher’s videos I found online. However, it is a real game-changer when students view your own videos.

Upon completion of viewing the video lessons, I check students notes the following class. I am moving to using Google Forms now to check for understanding and away from note checking. Since it is not the traditional HW, it should really not be checked in a traditional way.

Dan was kind enough to say yes to my request, and we set up a time for me to come and see his class in action.

To be continued…

  1. Those two book s are mine. I wrote them. Neat!

    I wish you the best and will be following your blog. Mine is Ramblings of a Military Historian. Best regards. Mike

  2. Johnb426 permalink

    Very interesting topic , appreciate it for posting . The friendship that can cease has never been real. by Saint Jerome. gdffcffdadke

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