By Bethany Petty
By now, most teachers have heard of the term “flipped classroom,” which describes a tactic that, as the name implies, flips the traditional classroom environment on its ear, creating a more student-centered, and student-driven classroom.
Powering this new style of teaching is an increasing number of schools that are implementing technology initiatives, such as a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, as well as 2:1, and 1:1 programs, that make it possible to do this.
However, as with any new teaching strategy, learning curves are expected, for teachers and students. The first lesson to be learned is that technology in the flipped classroom does not, and should never, replace the classroom teacher.
The role of the classroom teacher simply shifts from a “sage on the stage” to a “guide on the side.” Instead of lecturing, or talking “at” students, you can spend more instructional time guiding students through challenging activities and providing an individualized learning experience.
To decide if a flipped classroom strategy should be in your instructional toolbox, ask yourself these questions:
- How many students am I truly reaching with my current instructional strategy?
- Am I teaching to modern students, or am I teaching the way I was taught? (Reflecting on this question was a HUGE eye-opener for me!)
- How many times do I repeat myself in a class period or lecture?
- How often do I teach and reteach procedural tasks?
- If students are absent from my class, how do they receive lecture information?
- Am I taking full advantage of my instructional time? How much instructional time is spent with “fillers?”
Reflect upon your responses to these questions. If you think your teaching could use an update, check out the tools listed below, all of which were essential in my own transition to a flipped classroom.
The 2014-2015 school year marked the beginning of an awesome adventure for my building: we jumped head first onto the 1:1 bandwagon by implementing a Chromebook initiative.
To say I was excited would be a gross understatement! I wanted to embrace tools that would be accessible from the Chromebook and allow me to flip my classroom. Screencastify fit my needs; I use Screencastify lite (the free version which limits users to creating 10-minute screencasts) to create instructional videos for my students.
This tool is available as a Chrome extension and is easy to use—a must for me. When I’m ready to create my videos, I simply ensure the extension is enabled, choose a presentation platform, like Google Slides or Prezi, and start recording.
All your screencasts are saved to your Google Drive and are easy to upload to YouTube.
This tool has been indispensable in my flipped classroom this year. I struggled with finding a way to ensure that my students were watching my videos, taking notes, and discussing what they had learned.
To combat this, I initially created a different Google Doc for each video, which simply did not work for my students or me.
To learn more about that experiment, please read my year-end reflections here.
However, I soon discovered that EDpuzzle could solve many of the problems I was having. After I made my videos, I uploaded them to YouTube (sometimes Google Drive) and then into EDpuzzle, a tool that allows teachers to crop videos, add voiceovers, and embed comments, open-ended questions, and quizzes at different parts in the narrative.
In addition to ensuring my students are truly interacting with the video, EdPuzzle allows me to see whether or not my students have actually watched the screencast, how much of the video they viewed, and how many times they watched each section. I can also tell how well they understood the content by their responses to embedded questions.
For taking notes, the one thing they don’t do in EDpuzzle, students access a Google Doc (sent by me via Classroom), split their screen, and take notes while they interact with the tool.
For more information about using EDpuzzle, check out my post on the wonderful tool here.
Student Response Systems
As students view and interact with instructional videos, whether during class or as homework, it’s essential that teachers formatively assess what their students understand.
Formative assessment is of course, vitally important in all classrooms, and the flipped classroom is no different. There are many engaging and easy-to-use student response systems available for free; below are two of my favorites.
I developed two flipped classroom contracts for my students and their parents. If you are interested in viewing or using these documents in your classroom—click here to view my blog post about them.
This is the first gamified student response system I stumbled upon in my edtech tool quest. Kahoot! is fun to play and easy to use for creating discussions, polls or quizzes, which act as games. Students play after you provide them with a game pin, which is entered, along with their name, on the player page.
Afterward, you can download student responses to each question. These responses are color coded so you can easily see what content students understand, and where more guidance is needed.
Quizizz is a relatively new, gamified student response system, and is as much fun to play as it is to say! Quizizz is similar to Kahoot! in that teachers sign up for a free account and then create their quiz.
One characteristic that sets Quizizz apart from Kahoot!, however, is that students can play the game at their own pace. Instead of looking up at the whiteboard to read the questions and the response choices, students have all of the information on their individual screens.
They earn points based on response speed and accuracy and are greeted with awesome memes when they answer the questions.
My transition from a traditional classroom to a flipped classroom was fantastic, but didn’t come without troubles. Luckily, these tools made the switch to a flipped environment much easier for both my students and me—if you’re not in a flipped you can still use these tools to engage your students and make lessons more fun.