Flipping Out: Making Flipped Learning Work for You

7th November 2019

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Flipped Learning: one of those dreaded education ‘buzzwords’ which seem to permeate through our sector and add yet another ‘must do’ to our long lists. However, with a few simple strategies, you can ‘flip’ your classroom and achieve fantastic results for your students! Here’s how. 

Flipped Learning has turned into a catch-all term for a wildly varied assorted of pedagogical practices; some brilliant, and some…. less brilliant. So before we look at how to make it work well, we need to answer two basic questions. What is it, and why is it beneficial?

What is it?

The ‘flip’ in flipped learning is between in-class and out of class activities. Instead of tackling the more straightforward steps with the teacher (ie absorbing new concepts) and then applying the learning unsupported at home, these phases are switched.  As homework before the lesson, students read or watch to learn new concepts. In lesson, the teacher unpicks common misconceptions and then helps the students to apply these concepts successfully – which means you can help them with the trickier parts! 

Why is it beneficial?

Firstly, teachers are not the same as textbooks or instructional videos. Yes, we’re amazing sources of knowledge. However, our real value is understanding how students learning our subject; which concepts they find the most challenging, the sorts of questions they’ll ask and how to link this new knowledge into existing schemas. Flipped Learning allows us to use high-quality tools (like Your Favourite Teacher!)  to deliver the content, and then save our valuable time to do what we do best! This raises the level of challenge in the classroom, as students are already ‘primed’ with knowledge before you start.

Common Pitfalls

This is all great, you may say, but what about the students who don’t do their homework? True! Flipped Learning falls apart if students don’t do their homework. It also works poorly if the homework you set is the same as the homework you used to set. If you prepare a lesson for students who are primed, and they aren’t, then things can fall apart quite quickly.

Therefore, to have high impact, we want homework to be:

  • Valuable to students – something they see as helpful to their progress
  • Fool-proof – something they can tackle with no additional support

Make It Work

  • Firstly, the type of homework you set needs to change. It needs to be content-rich homework containing new information. The students need to think the task matters and that they’ll fall behind if they fail to complete it. A YFT lesson is perfect for this: each lesson has rich content in video and text. 
  • Secondly, you need a clear way of proving who has actually done the homework. ‘Watch this video’ relies on trust, and that won’t work. ‘Watch this video and answer these 10 questions’ is provable; they’ve either done it, or they haven’t. Either way, there’s nowhere for students to hide. On YFT you can even see who has 
  • completed a specific quiz, and their results. 
  • Thirdly, your lesson should start with an activity to gauge what has been learned and identify any common misconceptions. This way you’ll quickly get a sense of what you need to clarify or review before moving on to the more challenging tasks. Equally, students who don’t complete the homework will know that they will be ‘found out’ – giving them one more reason to do the homework.
  • Fourth, refer back to the content the students have pre-learned; keep reinforcing that it’s relevant, that you know what you set, and that it’s not just ‘busy-work’.
  • Finally, before you try this, you should explain the strategy to the students. This will ensure that they understand what’s happening and it’s not ‘business as usual’. If you want to make this work, you need their buy-in. It will take a while to ‘stick’, but once it does, you’ll find you have so much more time for the really enjoyable parts of teaching!

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