… to me, the kid is still getting the information via a lecture and studies are showing that that’s not the most effective way to learn – and to actually learn the concepts hands-on. So, in a Science class particularly, we want kids to be able to ask questions and do problems, carry out and design their own investigations – things that scientists do. And, that should really drive the instructions.

Frank Noschese, Slate Radio – Schooled: The Flipped Classroom

In reading and watching the material put forth for the topic of Flipped Classroom, my feeling was that it is very pro-flip (one-sided?), with basically all the resources focusing on the benefits of this technique. I was particularly concerned over the Connected Principals article – written three years ago, no less – making such claims that this is the way of the future and it should be obvious to anyone with rational thought that it is the clear ‘fix’ to the ‘problem’ of teachers who teach IN the classroom. I won’t even get into the absurdity of the included suggestions for ensuring students view the video before class.

I noticed only the case study resource provided a somewhat balanced look at this relatively new and trendy approach to teaching. So, I have included a great podcast that was recently released through SlateRadio where Frank Noschese and Jon Bergmann discuss the pros and cons of using reverse instruction.

Known to be frequently critical of many facets of the flipped classroom strategy, Frank does not write it off entirely, suggesting that watching videos and doing related activities at home does have a useful place when implemented properly:

“I see the video more as a way of generating questions and wonder and getting the kids excited and wanting to do the math or the physics or the science and get them ready for learning. It’s like priming the pump rather than, ‘here’s all the information that you need to know, now come in the next day and work on a couple example problems.'”

Poking fun at the not-so-bright side of EdTech: be sure to check out the above hashtag for some comedy.

Poking fun at the not-so-bright side of EdTech: be sure to check out the above hashtag for some comedy.

To distill the Flip Class technique down to assigning a video to watch in the evening, then coming to school to do ‘homework’ in class is unfortunate, yet that is what seems to be the case very often in reality. In order to use such a strategy effectively, the benefits must be taken advantage of while avoiding the negative aspects.

A highly recommended source for classroom flipping info and first-hand experience is Carolyn Durley’s blog {seems that is no longer active!), offering in-depth and thoughtful analysis of many aspects of this methodology as it relates to high school Biology. While I have not used the Flip Class strategy myself, I still find the topic interesting from an educational standpoint and enjoy the insights she offers.

There is no doubt that videos are useful too to supplement classroom activities and to see things in new and different perspectives. I use YouTube Playlists for every unit of all my science courses, hand-picking each video for a direct relation to the topics we discuss. It is definitely not THE content delivery tool, but as a supplement to reference throughout the unit. I also don’t think it is a necessary method to use when my class sizes are so small (biggest is 12) – as there is a lot of opportunity for interaction in class anyway. Having 30+ students could certainly be a factor in teachers’ choice to flip many lessons.

Another great use of  ‘at-home’ instruction is creating tutorial-style videos of topics that are related to the course, but would take up a significant amount of class time. Specifically, many students are lacking in basic Word and Excel (and Pages and Numbers!) skills (making and editing tables, charts, graphs, lines of best fit, scales, etc.) and leads to a big issue when writing lab reports or other projects and assignments. It would be nice to develop some tutorials for things like this, demonstrating specific tasks that the students will need to know when making their documents. There is very little time to teach computer skills in a science class, but still necessary if they are required to employ them for coursework. Therefore, having these as a reference for students at home seems to be quite logical and beneficial. One argument for making your own videos for students is that you have already developed the connection with them and know their strengths and weaknesses, so you can tailor the videos specifically to them and they are more likely to have interest in watching.

For some examples of this, Stephen Taylor has a few he created in this playlist. Although, I think I may do a little speaking just for kicks!

Photo Credit: Cín via Compfight cc