The Tutoring Center, Houston TX

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05/12/2014
We get a lot of questions about “flipped” classrooms. There are plenty of misconceptions about how they work and what they are. There’s also a big discrepancy between doing it right, and doing it wrong. So what exactly is a flipped classroom? How does it work, and is it really better?   

At its most basic description, a flipped classroom is where the teacher assigns the students topical lectures to view at night, instead of doing homework practice. Then during class time, while the students have their teacher available, they explore and practice the material they viewed at home.   

Unfortunately, many teachers who are just beginning to flip their classrooms will simply record their existing lectures for the students to watch at home, and then provide the same homework material in the classroom for the students to complete. While this might improve their homework completion, and help some students understand the material better, it will not improve engagement in a way that has driven the flipped classroom movement.   

A well-designed flipped classroom will have shorter videos than traditional lectures, sometimes using existing material, followed by short tasks to demonstrate that students actually watched the video. In the classroom, rather than completing pencil and paper tasks, the students should be working on collaborative exploration. In this way the teacher can help guide understanding, foster peer mentoring, and allow critical thinking to help expand the topic. 

One of the most critical components of the flipped classroom is teacher engagement during the exploration period. Teachers should be asking open ended questions, challenging students to expand on the videos they watched at home, and ensuring that students work together to make sure that everyone is participating.  


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