Saturday, March 3, 2012

9 reasons why I'm a flipping convert

There are lots of reasons why I have become a proponent of the Flipped Classroom.  I honestly can't imagine going back to my regular, traditional methods of teaching, even though I really feel like I was a great teacher and lecturer in the classroom.

The flipped classroom allows so much more...

1. I used to always feel rushed in class. I could feel it, my students could feel it, it was there. Just gotta get thru this last example so they can do their hw tonight. Darn short period on an assembly day, now my lesson will be cut in half! Now: not anymore! My students come to class with exactly how many examples I wanted them to see, and sometimes more for the students who watch extra examples. There is no more rush to beat the bell.

 2. I used to get slightly annoyed when little things like proper notation would be done incorrectly. Little things that I tried to emphasize in class, but either got lost in the midst of the big concept or were explained in the one or two minutes the student spaced out and wasn't paying attention. Now: this honestly happens extremely infrequently and I greatly attribute it to the fact that students are taught in video and can pause, rewind, and rematch anything they missed or didn't quite get. In addition, I might just gloss over it in class, but I know I teach it explicitly on the video and so me spacing out one day about having to cover a minor detail doesn't affect them. in addition, I am always there to clarify and reexplain for those who still need it without holding back the rest of class.

 3. Calculator operations are hard to teach to 40 kids at one time.  There are always those that know what buttons to push, and then those that can't follow you no matter how slow you go.  Now those operations are taught on a video where they can learn at their own pace.  This = MUCH LESS frustration when teaching something that has to be shown step by step.

4. My test scores are higher. That's pretty simple.  I'm collecting data all year on this and hope to continue to see this proved.  (See Flip Data for what I've collected).  In addition, since the Flipped Classroom allows students to work at their own pace and I have developed a "waiver" system for students to show me proficiency and move on without doing busy work, I feel like they are taking their work more seriously and actually doing it to learn and move on rather than just mindlessly thinking "I just need to get it done whether I really understand what I am doing or not".

5. I speak with every student every day. I look at every student's work every day. They have a personal teacher who can help them at any moment and they don't have to feel bad about asking questions and slowing down the rest of the class.  I feel like I know my students more and they are more comfortable asking questions than in previous years.

 6. My students not only get to talk to each other, they HAVE to talk to each other.  They have to converse about math and not just passively sit there and receive the information, and then spit it back out to me mindlessly in the homework.  There isn't room for them to be passive about their learning in a flipped class because there is always more stuff to learn, questions to answer, and concepts to explore.

7. I can still reteach to a whole class if needed.  A Flipped Classroom does not remove that option from my repertoire.  It also allows me to reteach to small groups and let the rest of the class keep working if necessary.

8. My faster learners don't feel held back.  They can work ahead at their own pace, whether it be moving ahead by a single lesson, moving on to the next chapter, or challenging themselves with deeper problems that I don't pose to the whole class.  In the same note, my slower learners don't feel like they should just give up because it's too hard.  They can take in the content at their own pace and review/re-learn material at any point.  Because the instruction is permanently archived on video, all students (high, medium, and low) can go back and review or re-learn at any time during  the year (or even once they are out of my class but need a refresher!).  All students can learn at their pace and every student is given the possibility to succeed, not just the learners that "get it" right away.

9.  Every student has the opportunity to receive the best quality education and be challenged to make meaning of it and take responsibility for themselves and their learning.  As much as they struggle with this sometimes, I know that deep inside it is rewarding for them when they see their hard work pay off and they feel successful.

Why do YOU flip your classroom?  Share in the comments!


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed. Do you flip your classroom?

  2. How does your "waiver" system work?

    1. Thanks for your question!

      Every hw/cw assignment is based on a specific concept. There is a "mini-quiz" that is based on each concept as well that the students must take before the Unit Test. So, for example:

      1. Students watch "Unit N Concept 6" video the night before.
      2. Students come to class and the assignment is to work on "Practice Quiz 6"
      3. If a student feels like they have mastered the concept, they can take "Quiz 6" during class that day. If they receive an "8" (perfect score, no mistakes anywhere), they are "waived" from finishing Practice Quiz 6 and can start the next concept's video or work back on previous concepts they still haven't mastered.
      4. If a student takes the quiz and doesn't get a perfect score, they have to go back and finish the classwork assignment completely. They can retake the quiz (new version) the next day (can't take same quiz twice in one day)
      5. If students feel they need more practice, they just complete the entire Practice Quiz assignment and take the quiz the next day or whenever they feel ready. There is a new version every day for the quizzes.

      This helps them to self-monitor and self-evaluate; it helps them to feel more confident because they only take the quiz when they feel they are ready rather than being forced to take it as a whole class. It also saves me a lot of time in grading failed quizzes :). And, it keeps the students motivated to practice so they learn the material, not just so they get it done.

  3. Are the practice quizzes created on some type of software? Do you create them? Are they provided by your book or workbook? Are they (or could they be) created on Google Docs? How do you get them corrected in a timely manner so the students can move forward during that period? Are the quizzes self-correcting? Thanks for all the info! Can't wait to begin this spring with an attempt at flipping my Algebra class!

    1. I use Kuta Software for almost all of my worksheets (homework, quizzes, tests, etc). It's awesome. They have free worksheets, but I bought the full version 3 years ago and have never regretted the several hundred $$. It is VERY useful and with the click of a button I can create as many versions of a worksheet, test, or quiz that I want. "Infinite Algebra 1" is the one I use for everything Algebra 1; you can find it at if you are interested.

      With that, I have a printout of all the different versions (I use one version each day, sometimes I will mix it up and use different versions in each class so the kids don't think they can share answers), so all I have is the paper that has the answers for that day. It is very easy to grade and very quick. The students just bring me their quiz, I grade it in about 5-10 seconds (since each quiz is based on ONE concept only, it is between 1-4 questions long). I don't give much partial credit on the quizzes because they can retake it as many times as they want (new versions next day) and we are looking for mastery. So, throughout the course of the period I'll be grading different quizzes from different concepts, but I just have one sheet that has all the answers so it's pretty quick.

      Some days it's crazy and the kids just have to turn in the quizzes and they'll get them back the next day. But, my goal is to be able to grade them on the spot because I like the immediate feedback.

      I have heard of other teachers using platforms on the computer to do the quizzes (Moodle is one I've heard of), but I haven't explored that since I don't have enough classroom computers to make that feasible.

      How exciting that you are starting to flip :) It is a huge change but so worth it once you get it somewhat figured out!!!

    2. From what I understand, all the students take the unit test on the same day. However, they move through the unit and concepts at their own pace. If they've mastered one, they can move to the next one or go back to review previous concepts that they may have struggled to master.

      I teach History and am trying to get my head around how I can create something similar. Math makes it a little easier to have multiple quizzes over the same concept. Plug in different numbers and you've got a different quiz. I've dipped my toe into flipping and I'm trying to experiment so I can canonball next fall.

      I appreciate you sharing your experiences and thoughts as well as the thoughts of your students. I am eternally grateful that you've been honest in your assessments. It's helped me to know that other teachers have the same kinds/groups of students in their classroom as I do. Initially, I was frustrated that this didn't grab all of the students. However, I've noticed that students who try hard but still struggle have enjoyed the flipped classroom the most. They like that they can pause and replay things they missed or didn't understand. Some of them have begun to download my flipped lectures onto their ipods and they listen to them on the way to school on test days.

    3. @Anon - Thanks for your comment. I'm glad my reflections and thoughts can be of help to other teachers. Also, it's good to hear that I'm not alone in the types of students I have. I can get frustrated at time as well because I just wish all my students would give 100% effort in everything they do. I agree with you that the students who I think are benefiting the most are those who "try hard but still struggle". The improvement I have seen in those students has been phenomenal.

      To confirm your understanding, yes, all students take the Unit Test on the same day, which is usually 3-4 days after they should have worked on every concept. That gives kids a few more days to master the content if needed, and also forces the students to do more than just cram and then forget.

      I'm contemplating ideas/ways to have the class fully self-paced, where students take the Unit Test when they have achieved mastery on all the quizzes. I just can't wrap my head around the feasibility of this since all of my tests are free response and it would be a grading nightmare for me. We'll see what else I think of before next fall starts.

      I do know I've come across several teachers who are flipping their history classes. If they have blogs I have them listed on the right hand side. I'm not sure how the quizzes would be able to work in history. I have a friend who is thinking of flipping his AP Bio class next year and has the same concerns. With numbers, it's easy to change and re-assess. Not as much with facts.

      Let me know if you come up with any ideas for your class, and good luck as you continue to explore :)


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