From the diary of a Flipped Classroom

The concept of the Inverted Classroom Model is slowly but surely becoming known in Germany. These days however, it remains a challenge to find the time to explore the essence of an issue and its didactical potential. When people hear about my videos, the common reaction has been: “Ah right, you are the teacher who only uses videos in the classroom.” Or, “Isn’t it terrible when they are stuck to their screens in school too?”

Focussing on the video-making aspect of flipped learning is an incomplete representation of the concept, even though it seems, at first glance, to be the most innovative characteristic of the method. In the following article, I’ve composed a kind of diary entry describing the (almost) analogue way I teach, which remains at the heart of my Flipped Classroom.

Almost analogue Flipped Teaching

When I enter the classroom, 5 eager students have already arranged their materials on the table and have started to work. The slower ones need a bit more time to get started, dare I guess because they didn’t prep their homework thoroughly enough? Doesn’t matter!

Five minutes later all of the students have their materials organised and are working on the tasks set according to their own pace. It is here where I can spot who has done the homework and who hasn’t. Whoever typically hasn’t done the pre-assigned tasks is consulting the course book, essentially doing what should have been done at home. The other ones of the I-forgot-to-do-it type are being discretely briefed by their class colleagues. I don’t let them know that I’ve noticed what they are doing – it is, in fact, a great alternative. The discussions are becoming louder, and they are talking about Maths. Okay, I’ll admit the ones in the back row are not wholly focussed on Maths (their facial expressions give them away) but after a brief rebuke they get back on course and continue to work. The unsure student announces: “I can’t do this.” I ask him what hasn’t he understood. Little by little he gives me more and more information so that in the end, I can provide him with enough input to lead him in the right direction. Meanwhile an eager student is already finished and has even completed the additional assignment. I hand him my personal tablet, which he uses to create an instructional video that we later post to the class learning platform.

The other students are helping each other, or are working alone with or without the aid of appointed tutors. I walk through the classroom, checking homework, motivating the frustrated ones, adjusting the workload of the stressed ones, waking up the tired ones and nudging the complacent ones to compare their work with the posted solutions.

The solitary worker has in the meantime stuck his earplugs into his ears, confident that working alone is the best way for him to improve. I then start a conversation with the ones who gained a “Three” and a “Four” in the last test and inquire about their poor performance/congratulate them on their improvement. To hold the attention of the class until the end of the hour I initiate a kahoot quiz which motivates them for the last 10 minutes and helps me to see how much they understood. I then plan the next homework assignments to suit.

Although I spent the whole hour with my students, I spoke directly to only a few. The other fifteen were content to work alone or collaboratively. Not every student solved the problems correctly, not every student worked during the entire hour, not every student had their best day, but in the end most learned more than if I had spent the same time directing proceedings from the front, being the centre of attention. The actual learning took place with the aid of the course book, notebooks or discussions.

Flipped Classroom requires preparation

This teaching method can only succeed if I prepare instructional videos beforehand at home. By transferring the input from inside the classroom to outside of the classroom I gain valuable time to properly address the individual needs of the students and to help them organise their learning themselves and at their own pace and rhythm.

Some of my Flipped Classroom colleagues work in a similar manner in higher classes, using course books instead of videos. And that is exactly my point: videos are not the most important aspect of Flipped Classroom and do not define the concept per se. Its didactical power lies in its meaningful integration within a teacher’s instructional flow. By using technology selectively and with purpose, the essential analogue phases can lead to more effective learning.


This article is a translation from my german blogpost at mobilegeeks.de

Thanks a lot Alicia Bankhofer for the translation.

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