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Response: 'Double Flip' Your Classroom

(This is the last post in a two-part series. You can see Part One here.)

The new "question-of-the-week" is:

What are the best ways to make a flipped classroom work?

In Part One, Kristina J. Doubet, Eric M. Carbaugh, Rita Platt, Sarah Thomas, Troy Cockrum, Sonja Cherry-Paul, and Dana Johansen responded to the question. You can listen to a 10-minute conversation I had with Rita and Kristina on my BAM! Radio Show. You can also find a list of, and links to, previous shows here.

Today, Daniel Schwartz, Jeryl-Ann Asaro,  and William Kist share their thoughts. I also include comments from readers.

Response From Daniel Schwartz

Daniel Schwartz, PhD, is Dean of the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. He has served as a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education since 2000, teaching courses in instructional methods, learning and assessment, cognition, and cognitive neuroscience. He is the author of a MacArthur Foundation report on learning-based assessments and of the new book The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use Them:      

The idea of a flipped classroom began in colleges. All these talented students and experts in the same room, and yet we lectured. It was a waste of a great setting for learning.  The big innovation that came to be called "flipped" instruction was to move a videotaped lecture to a pre-class assignment and use class time for active learning.

Socially active, student-centered class time is excellent for many reasons.  Students can collaborate, ask questions, get just-in-time feedback, learn by teaching one another, and clarify unnecessary confusions. 

The difficulty is that lectures are still a numbing way to learn, and flipped instruction expects students to watch lectures at home.  Instead of seeing a new variable introduced every 45 seconds in an engineering class lecture, they can do it at home.  Yay? 

Here is an idea that we dubbed "double flipped" instruction. Students receive a starter activity to complete at home, designed specifically to help them understand the nature of the problem that the lecture solves. In class, we complete a 10-minute lecture on the problem's solution. (We could deliver the lecture as a video, but the lecture is short and leaves plenty of time for class activities.)  Students use the remaining time to work together on relevant problems and group activities, and we circulate providing help as requested.

We use double-flipped instruction selectively for big ideas, not the hundreds of details instructors may or may not choose to cover.  Double-flipped instruction creates an optimal time for group activity, so that students are prepared and eager to learn from the lecture.

One concrete example comes from an introductory statistics course we teach at Stanford.  Students receive a sheet that shows the results of testing four different baseball-pitching machines.  Black dots represent where pitches landed when aimed at an X in the center.


The students' task is to invent a numerical index of the reliability for each pitching machine.  It is an engaging problem, because there are many different possible solutions.  The students use their cell phones to take a picture of their solutions and email them to us.  In class, we show some of the student solutions to highlight their creativity, strengths, and limitations (~10 minutes).  We then give a brief lecture on how experts decided to handle this kind of problem, namely, the standard deviation and its formula (a statistical measure of variability).  We find students are much more likely to ask questions during the lecture, because they have a strong grasp of the problem, and they want to understand how the standard deviation works.  Finally, we hand out new problems that require using the standard deviation, and students work in small groups.  We cycle around, check in, answer questions, and elaborate.

Double-flipped instruction works for many topics and is applicable to elementary, middle, and high school classrooms alike. In a psychology class, we gave students small data sets and asked them to find the interesting patterns.  We then provided a lecture on the patterns and the theories that describe them.  These students showed greater learning than students who summarized a chapter for homework and then heard the exact same lecture.  Double-flipped instruction helps solve the problem of making homework more interesting, and more impressively, making lectures work better. 



Response From Jeryl-Ann Asaro

Jeryl-Ann Asaro loves her job as an 8th grade English teacher. As an educational writer for www.inspiringteachers.com, she specialized in offering guidelines to novice teachers. Jeri is also a contributor to the book, Classrooms that Spark and the NJASCED Report on Professional Communities (PLC) and Character Education. She has taught at four levels—elementary, middle, high school, and post-graduate, but she has found that teaching adolescent-aged students is her true calling. Spending her days in her classroom with her 14-year-olds is her favorite place to be—crazy, but true:

The Flipped Classroom model is a workable option for an active learning classroom, but only if you have a few prerequisites in mind. It requires from the teacher. . .

  1. an understanding that the planning is more work, but the classroom experience is enriched for all stakeholders.

  2. a lesson plan for the follow-up classroom lesson after the flipped work is completed (hint: a bit of fun).

  3. a flipped homework assignment that is of reasonable length, appealing, and assessable.

  4. a realistic arrangement, prepared and explained in advance, for the students who do not complete the homework. What are you going to do with them? How do you hold them accountable?

  5. the essential post-assessment piece. Some students are less likely to engage in the work if there is no "grade" attached, and most will work if they feel they are missing out on an interesting activity.

  6. finally, no more "sage on the stage, simply facilitate! The advance work alleviates the need for long lectures. Spend more time face-to-face with students, working with them individually or in small groups, and differentiating the instruction.

Accept this list of basics, and the flipped classroom model becomes a skillful way to perk up the classroom environment, and it can work in any subject area.

Here are twelve-plus adjustable ideas that have worked beautifully in my diverse, eight grade classroom.

  1. The evening before the lesson, students prepare a reading assignment: a book chapter or an online reading. Offer guided questions or an organizer enabling students to focus on areas of the most importance.

  2. With the guided questions, encourage students to tag/highlight passages in the reading, and as a post-activity, create a Socratic seminar or a Pinwheel discussion (see YouTube for examples).

  3. Video clips, sections of movies, audios of poetry readings, etc., could be used in similar ways. Video clips are perfect for math class (e.g. FlippedMath). Use sites like Blendspace by TES or edpuzzle which enable you to embed videos (could be created by you) along with the guided questions or an activity.
  4. There are other options available for at-home learning experiences. Use the nightly news or a television program based on the objective.

  5. Create a webhunt (e.g. author study), and have the students complete it at home to increase their prior expertise.

  6. Have your students interview someone and share that knowledge with the class.

  7. Let students prepare three questions on their preview assignment. Provide them with higher-level questions stems (Blooms, Depth of Knowledge Wheel, etc.). Use multiple choice, math questions, or open-ended questions. As a follow-up "Do Now" activity, have students use an online tool like KaHoot! to type up their questions. The entire class then takes a student-made interactive quiz, which is fun and allows the teacher to assess. This same idea could be completed using index cards and individual white boards.

  8. Help students prepare advance ideas for a Graffiti Wall activity. Use bulletin board paper and markers and have students work together in small groups. All groups rotate around the room to small "walls" where there are quotations/problems/ideas from the reading/video, and students react to those ideas.

  9. Assess students with a "One-Minute Paper" where students provide reasoning, based on the viewing/reading of the advanced material (Peardeck).

  10. Discussion boards and blogs are great tools to assist students in making connections between the newly-learned ideas (Kidblog).

  11. A concept map helps to tie ideas together (Bubbl.us).

  12. Lastly, look up these ideas too. They are simple classroom assessment tools: Think-Pair-Share, Pass-it, Gallery Walk, Fishbowl, Paired Discussion, Note-Sharing, Pass the Quarter, Role Play, Poll the Class, Pass the Paper, etc. (Active Engagement and Learning).



Response From William Kist

William Kist is a professor of teaching, learning, and curriculum studies at Kent State University, where he teaches literacy courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He is the author of the ASCD Arias publication Getting Started with Blended Learning: How do I integrate online and face-to-face instruction? Connect with Kist on Twitter @williamkist:

Over the past five years, I've become more and more flipped in my instruction so that even when my class is not officially listed as flipped, I'm still flipped.  I'm hooked on being flipped.  (This kind of "flipped" instruction is frequently also referred to as "blended" or "hybrid" instruction.)  I've collected many of my favorite ways to make flipped classrooms work in my book "Getting Started with Blended Instruction" (ASCD, 2015). 

One of my main takeaways from these years of teaching in flipped fashion is always to make sure that my F2F (Face-to-Face) time is spent with students doing activities that can only be done F2F and that my online time is spent with students doing things that can only be done or are best completed online.  And a corollary of this axiom is to make sure that both online and F2F activities are engaging and as "authentic" as possible.

This might seem like obvious advice, but in talking with teachers and students about flipped classrooms, I've noticed that teachers sometimes assign tasks that don't take advantage of the advantages of each of the learning spaces.  They unfortunately tend to replicate some of the more mundane instructional strategies that have been in vogue for most of the 20th century (and even before that)!  For example, I've seen students being assigned to watch a lengthy video lecture that consists of nothing but a talking head.  And I've seen students filling out what amount to online worksheets.  I've also seen precious F2F time taken up by teachers' showing a film or doing what amounts to clerical work that could be done outside of class.

My own experience with assigning online discussions (within a blog structure) taught me to examine closely each element of my flipped instruction and not just try to replicate something I've always done it in my previous analog teaching.    Early on, for example, in my flipped classroom, I had assigned students to make numerous posts online on discussion boards and then to respond to other students' posts.  At first, I was excited with the online interaction and felt we were building a real community.  But then, after the class ended, I noticed the conversation always came to a complete halt.  In my years of assigning blogs, I never had any class continue the conversation in the online environment past the last day of class.  My students were clearly just complying with the discussion requirements in exchange for a grade.  Was what I was doing really taking advantage of being flipped?   

During my F2F time now I try to make sure that my strategies involve having the students get up and move around the room, talking to their colleagues and collaborating on projects that matter to them.  Because of the physicality of the F2F environment, I try to make use of students' senses, by perhaps having them taste or smell something. With my online activities, I've tried to make the most of the multimodality of screen-based environments—I've asked my students to "read" texts that include many visual and aural elements.  And I've also asked them to create products that take advantage of being online—using such presentational tools like PowerPoint and Google Slides and such newer tools like Voicethread, PowToons, Panopto, SlideRocket, Keynote, or SlideDog.  This brings up my final point—sometimes I feel that teachers get too tied to their Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and don't realize that it's OK to think outside of that box and have students make a product that can be put in a DropBox folder or can be accessed via Prezi, for example.  To sum up, I try every time I teach to make sure that I'm fully utilizing the benefits of being flipped.



Responses From Readers

Thanks to Jeri, Daniel and William, and to readers, for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment with your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected]. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Anyone whose question is selected for this weekly column can choose one free book from a number of education publishers.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form.  It's titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

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This is the last question-and-response for two months.  During the summer, I'll be sharing posts bringing together updated collections of links around specific themes.  New questions will begin again in September!



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