When are students ready for a flipped classroom?

Photo Credit: Startblock by Schneewittchen via Flickr

Do I like the concept of the Flipped Classroom (The Flipped Class: Myths vs. Reality)? I’m not sure yet.

The idea that students know already the content by mainly watching a video, but also reading a text, listening to a podcast, asking an expert, reading a website, etc. when they come to the lesson
during class the students get the possibility to go further, to ask question, to make connections, to share their thinking, to show their deeper understanding, to get into a concepts, to inquire in different directions, to make conclusions, to think about action, etc. makes me curious.

I wonder what is more challenging for a teacher: to provide appropriate content in advance OR to find the right activities to support above written goals? Both are important and probably must not underestimated. Appropriate content – what does it really mean? Especially with an inquiry approach in mind and all the differentiation which is need in a classroom?!

Amongst others I’m teaching Grade 4 advanced German. The current unit is about discoveries and explorations and how it continues to change our world. Through a Visible Thinking routine called Generate, Sort, Connect and Elaborate the students developed great questions about space. Most of the questions were content related. I provided them a preselected websites with texts, videos, games, and visualizations to find answers which most of them did successfully. It was during the lesson in school. Now I’m questioning: Could they have done this at home (and I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of homework)? Would we have had more time to go further, f.e. to answer the question why astronauts and astronomers explorer the space? And how did it change our world or will change our world?

Would this have been a first step in the direction of flipped classroom? My students answered their questions during the lesson and developed even new questions. My role was to support them with searching, reading, understanding, note taking, formulating the answer as a sentence and with their own words – learning the language through using the language. The students got the support they needed individually. I wouldn’t have gotten that chance if they had watched something at home. I was interacting with the students instead of lecturing. It was student centered and the students were able to inquire into topics they are interested in.

In secondary school and even more at universities (Umgedrehter Unterricht and Umgedreht lernen und lehren: „Inverted Classroom Model“) I rather imagine the flipped classroom like this infographik describes. In primary school the students still need too many pre-skills to know how to get most out of it by this method themselves, f.e. how to take notes, how to read a non-fiction text, searching skills, etc. There is probably way more the students have to be ready for before they can go for it.

In addition I’m wondering now how it looks like to teach and learn a language in terms of “teaching the language” (German in my case)? My next step to inquire into …

One reply on “When are students ready for a flipped classroom?”

I’m interested to see what Flipped Classroom might look like in a language course. As someone who has flunked several Rosetta Stone videos, I know that this concept isn’t new to language teachers. Maybe if it’s even watch a TV show in German for 10 (many many dubbed on YouTube) that would be an opportunity to hear the language as it’s actually spoken. Or you video recording yourself explaining the homework in German so kids could go back and watch a super short video. But is it worth giving homework? The homework issue is an interesting one and one I struggle with a lot. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!



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