I recently read this Edutopia blog post by Andrew Miller about flipped classrooms. I was particularly drawn to this post because I do think it’s important for teachers to take a step back and focus less on how incredible and revolutionary flipped classrooms are, and more on what exactly is needed to ensure that they stay incredible in the long run. Personally, I think they’re a great idea; I do think that they fit more naturally in the secondary classrooms, not the elementary ones, but there are definitely ways to modify and integrate the traditional “flipped classroom” into an elementary setting.
Miller makes many excellent points, including the following:
- Yes, it’s a video, and today’s students tend to be more comfortable looking at a screen than at a piece of paper, but it’s still a lecture. Teachers need to establish a purpose for their recorded lecture beyond the fact that it’s required material. If they don’t, why are students going to bother watching?
- Is it fair to require students to watch the videos outside of class time? In certain schools, including the one at which I will be working this fall, teachers are not allowed to grade any homework or projects or anything that is completed outside of the classroom, nor are we allowed to include homework completion as part of any interim grade or progress report grade. Miller believes that making the videos mandatory is unfair to students, and I have to say that I agree. Imagine a student in 5th grade who plays violin and competes on a gymnastics team. Her parents also believe in family dinner at the table, and she has a bedtime of 8:45. Between lessons, rehearsals, concerts, practice, competitions, dinners, and the typical bedtime routine of a 10 year old, how on Earth is this girl supposed to watch a “flipped” lecture that is intended to replace the majority of a 30-45 minute lesson?
- My biggest takeaway from this article is this one final point: Flipped classrooms are a good step forward, but they are not a solution. It is a great concept, and it may very well become as common a practice in education as the two-finger quiet signal, but only time will answer that question.