COETAIL, Course 4

THE essential question: Is it best for my students?

Justifying why I’m a skeptic took a lot of energy last time…I promise this one won’t be as long-winded!

I want to make it clear that at the center of my thinking is always student achievement. I’ve just been much more data-driven since starting UKSTL. I want to see the tangible evidence for how [insert name of latest educational technology trend] is affecting student learning. With that said….here goes on flipping!

Photo Credit: jared via Compfight cc

My thoughts on reverse instruction vary considerably based on how it’s being defined…

If students are reading chapters of a book (or article, etc) and then discussing in class…that’s been happening for years in education (at least I was expected to do that in high school 10+ years ago). Is it better now because we have a fancy name for it?

If students are watching recorded lectures at home and doing homework in school…I might be able to understand the rationale. Your kids are missing lots of class time due to sporting events? Okay, I get it – you’re trying to help students learn in a slightly different format because of extenuating circumstances. However this makes a couple assumptions: students are going to watch the lectures at home and the teacher is going to have enough time in class to work with & challenge all students equally while they do their homework. That’s what I’m not so convinced about. I had to heavily adapt my homework policy while teaching French in South Carolina because my students simply wouldn’t/couldn’t (they worked, they had to take care of their siblings because their parents worked, etc) do their homework before they came to class. What is going to make them take the same amount of time to watch a video? Is a recorded lecture inherently more engaging (than a live lecture)? Is doing practice problems in school inherently more engaging (than doing them at home)? They’re the same thing we’ve been doing (page 65)…simply reversed. I’m not convinced that makes students more engaged or improves the learning.

If the in-class time is being used for projects and other learning experiences that are enhancing and transforming the learning, I’m all for ‘flipping.’ The ability to differentiate in-class time and achieve mastery of content are also worth flipping for (mastery motivates).

Now that you’ve freed up class time, you need to use it productively. This can be a challenge. You’ve spent all of your time and energy developing your lectures and now you don’t have the time/energy to develop new, innovative, interactive classroom activities. This is where I need to improve. It takes a while! (The Electric Educator)

I understand that the first and second definitions might also be stepping stones to the third, to actually redefining the classroom and education. But those periods of growth need to be short in order to, ultimately, create the classroom that John R. Sowash described above.

Like any new ‘solution’ to ‘fixing’ education, I’m a little skeptical and wary.

  • Who has the most to gain from flipping? The students? The teachers? Or the businesses and organizations trying to make a profit off their videos and resources?
  • Done poorly (first 2 definitions), flipping doesn’t seem to aid in student achievement and could actually be detrimental (talk to the kids in classes who never get to work with the teacher 1-on-1 while doing homework). Technology integration isn’t easy. And neither is flipping. Teachers hoping to make their lives easier…stop right there. Teachers should be making the video lectures in order to tailor specifically to their curriculum and students. The Flipped Class should be challenging and increase student engagement and learning.

At the end of the day we should all be asking “What is best for the students in my classroom?” If flipping is the answer, use it wisely like you would any instructional strategy or tool. If it’s not, don’t.

p.s. just found a draft of a flipped classroom post that I started…and then forgot about! I had noted two posts from Dan Meyer on flipping: a discussion & Khan doesn’t like flipping either. Also, a reminder that technology integration is NOT replacing a teacher with a computer.


4 thoughts on “THE essential question: Is it best for my students?”

  1. Hi Lissa! Your post on the flipped model really echos my own thinking. I agree that there are multiple understandings of the model and we really need to be aware of how we are using it and like you stated at the end of the day… does it really increase student learning? With the “flipped” model I’m really curious about what teachers do with the time they open up in their classrooms. What transformative activities occur after students have watched a lecture? How is technology integrated into that process? Thanks!


  2. The more I think about Flipped Classroom, the more I think that the media has it’s understanding of Flipped Classroom wrong. No (effective/good) teacher uses Flipped methods to send home a 45 minute lecture and then immediately give a summative test, which is what the media makes it sound like. Flipping to get through content is easy, but getting through content is actually the easiest part of the job. But some aspects of the flip (that both you and Kelsey address) can add value. I’m thinking of recording my descriptions of a TSC so kids can watch it. I’ve seen home ec teachers who have kids watch short videos and then come in, ready to cook. Erik Mazur uses kids questions on a video they watch at home to shape instruction, so the kids direct the learning not the teacher.

    Is it good for the kids is the best question to be asking at all times about all thing. The media version of Flipped Classroom isn’t good for the kids (IMO), but there are some parts that are EXCELLENT for our kids. The tricky bit is figuring out which ones 🙂

    Thanks as always for your reflections and your thoughts.


    1. I’m with you Rebekah! MOOCs, flipping, technology…the hard part is figuring out the parts that are motivating and work well and translating them to K-12 education for our students. Teaching is hard! 😉


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