I have been hearing a lot lately about the “flipped” classroom. If you haven’t heard about it yet, Holly Epstein Ojalvo and Shannon Doyne of the New York Times provide a succinct definition: “an ‘inverted’ teaching structure in which instructional content is delivered outside class, and engagement with the content – skill development and practice, projects and the like – is done in class, under teacher guidance and in collaboration with peers.”
It all started when a couple of teachers started recording their lectures and posting them as Power Points on the net for students who were absent. And that is the essence of it really. You provide content for the students to access outside the classroom and structured exploratory activities and lessons based on that content in the classroom. This “flips” the teacher’s role from class lecturer (information provider) to class guide through activities based on the pre-assigned content.
Instead of viewing this as a total approach, I think both the “flipped” and the “traditional” classrooms are important tools of teaching. Good teachers don’t use only one approach; instead, they create and adapt according to the needs of individual students and according to the needs of the class as a whole. Whether you think this is a total solution or not, one thing is certain…when you “flip” your lessons, access to good technology resources is essential.
So I’ve been searching for some resources to help teachers get started with “flipped” lessons, and here is a good one: The New York Times’ Learning Network: Five Ways to Flip Your Classroom with the New York Times. You can begin with a simple article related to what you are teaching, assign students to read it before class, and then build activities and discussion for the following day during class.
In the Classroom
The NY Times also has a great flipped lesson on the Shakespeare authorship issue. This lesson asks students to “interpret their assigned comparison or reference, drawing on background knowledge and context clues” from a series of articles all of which mention a Shakespeare character. Give each group different (opposing views) articles to take home and read beforehand. Let students know that when they return to class, they will be debating the multiple opinions about the Shakespeare authorship issue. Be sure to introduce the criteria for evaluation and the expectations ahead of time too. When the students return, your role is now flipped from providing information to guiding them through the process of forming their own ideas and opinions about important issues—higher level thinking skills.
Here are a few more resources for getting started with the flipped classroom approach. Enjoy! —Scott
- The Flipped Class Network
- The Complete Guide to the Flipped Classroom
- The Flipped Classroom Defined
- How to Implement the Flipped Classroom