So You Think You Can't Flip Your Classroom?

So You Think You Can't Flip Your Classroom?
Summary: The idea of flipping your classroom can be both appealing and intimidating. It gets you, the teacher, out of your comfort zone, but in return enables you to spend more time coaching your students as they engage in meaningful tasks and interactions in class.

Why Flip Your Classroom?

Many teachers think flipped learning sounds quite interesting but feel a bit intimidated when it comes to taking the plunge and start flipping. After all, it is only natural to fear the unknown and flipping your classroom can very easily push you way out of your comfort zone as it shifts your teaching paradigm.

In a traditional classroom, the teacher spends a considerable amount of time instructing students. If that instruction is moved out of the classroom and made available to students in a virtual format, the teacher might find that he/she has a lot of extra class time and wonder what to do with it. The answer could be quite simple, though. If students are now doing at home what they used to do in class, maybe they should now do in class what they used to do at home. It actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

How often do students go home to do homework just to find themselves at a loss not knowing how to approach the task at hand? Asking their parents for help is usually no good as chances are that they probably saw that in school a few decades ago and no longer remember anything about it. To most parents, physics, algebra, geometry, ancient history, and the like have become obscure subjects of which only blurry flashbacks remain. What students need is someone who really knows the subject and can help them make sense of it. They need an expert, and that expert is their teacher (YOU), who happens to be at school. That extra class time can very well be used to foster higher order thinking skills in our students like analysis, synthesis, and evaluation through problem solving, role playing, and  collaborative learning.

Ready to Flip Your Classroom? This might help.

Flipping your classroom is not really that hard to do. You can find some basic guidelines on how to do it in my article Flipping Your EFL Classroom? Go Ahead! Your Students Will Thank You. Nevertheless, there are a few things you may want to take into consideration:

Create your content having your target audience in mind.

When you create your virtual lessons, it is a good idea to keep in mind who they are intended for. For instance, if your students are children, you will probably want to choose colors, topics, and characters that they are likely to find appealing. If, on the contrary, you are flipping part of a professional development workshop for teachers or engineers, you may want to theme the lesson accordingly. Another thing you need to consider in advance is how they are likely to access the content. If most of your students are going to be using tablets or smartphones, which means that you need to design for small screen sizes, use big letters and keep the word count to a minimum. However, if they are going to be using PCs or laptops, you will have more room for examples and pictures.

Make it look and sound good.

Try to use a good camera to capture video and adequate lighting. If at all possible, try to avoid using the built-in microphone and use an external one. Built-in microphones are omnidirectional and capture all kinds of undesired ambient noise. If you use pictures, try not to use small images that can become heavily pixelated when stretched.

Anticipate student questions.

Remember you will not be there to answer your students’ questions as they go over your online lesson. It is always a good idea to provide some sort of "Frequently Asked Questions" section based on what students would normally ask in class when sitting through the same lesson in a face-to-face format. If you include comprehension check questions, provide metacognitive feedback that tells students why their answer was right or wrong instead of the usual "Good job!"  or "Try again!"

 So you still think you can't flip your classroom? Of course you can! Just give it a try.