There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the idea of the flipped classroom.  While I do not intend to provide a precise definition of what flipping means, there are a couple of things that I can definitely say that it is not:

1.  A simple solution that will solve all of your problems
2.  A guarantee that your students will pay attention during class
3. A simple way to ensure that your students love you and your course
4. An easy way to keep you from lecturing

The ideas I present here are my own hybrid of a wide range of teaching methods including flipped classrooms, active learning strategies, lecture-free teaching, just-in-time teaching, and learner-centered classrooms (and a host of other pedagogical ideas).  

This combination has worked for me, but it is not formulaic, and you may find that my approach will not work for you.  I do hope that you will begin to think more about creating a classroom environment in which students take more responsibility for their own learning.

Incorporating the flipped model into your classroom

The only unbreakable rule of this approach is that the students' first exposure to the lecture material needs to be at home (before class… or they will not be equipped to participate in class).

This may seem like an impossible task, but I have found that the most important thing is getting students used to the routine of preparing for class. Keep in mind, they probably will not do this on a regular basis unless they feel that they "have to." The easiest way to enforce this is to assign points to the task.

  • Assign directed reading of the textbook or a website, and give students a reading assignment to complete as they read.
  • Have students watch a video or animation at home before class and complete an assignment as they work through it. Click HERE for a list of useful video content to use in your classroom.
  • Prepare mini-lecture videos of material that students may have trouble grasping by reading. This is particularly useful for those topics that the textbook does a poor job of addressing. For resources that will help you to prepare your own videos, click HERE (or follow the "lecture capture" link on the left side of the screen).
The unbreakable rule here is that there must be an assessment for each homework assignment. In-class quizzes have recently worked the best for me, but homework assignments can also be functional.

You can think about it either way, but there MUST be either a carrot for completing the assignment or a stick for failure to complete the assignment. This is THE secret to getting most of the students to complete most of the homework assignments. This may mean more grading for you, but having students prepared for class will change the classroom dynamic so much that it will likely be worth the extra time spent on grading. If you take advantage of the many technology options available today, it is fairly easy to manage grading time. For more info on grading quickly and efficiently, take a look at THIS page.

Some considerations

Keep in mind that these are college students - they are able to read on their own, complete assignments, and prepare for class without too much of your help. If you create useful assignments, they will actually learn the material on their own. Your students might not be confident in their ability to do this, but they will learn and they will gain confidence.

As much as we like to think that students learn because we are so effective at presenting information to them in lecture, this is very rarely the reason they learn. We can help them to understand, but they need to begin to learn the material on their own.

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