‘Flipped classroom’ is a term I’ve encountered frequently over the last couple of years. In my mind it had something to do with the pupils and teachers reversing their roles and I instinctively backed away. Of course, I know better than that, so I’ve done my research and discovered that it’s to do with the lesson structure, not the social structure. Lessons are delivered online and the active part is carried out in class. Knewton has a simple explanation here.
This struck a bit of a chord with me, because my colleague and I made something of a first step in that direction last week. We needed to teach a practical lesson to upper KS2 on mathematical transformations, but we were due to be out of class and this lesson was going to be covered by supply. I was concerned about how I was going to explain to a supply teacher, either in written form or in a hasty conversation at the start of school, how exactly I wanted this taught – a systematic way of achieving an accurate result. Overnight it occurred to me that it would be easier to just film myself giving this demonstration and that would save a lot of time. Teachers on video are so commonplace on Youtube these days, one might expect that we’re all filming ourselves all the time, but it’s surprisingly still remarkably rare. Anyway, stifling our sniggers, my colleague and I carried out our demonstrations on video and these were duly played on the whiteboard at the start of each of two lessons. The pupils, apparently, did not snigger, but I had the best results for mathematical transformations that I can remember!
It’s obvious really. In video it’s much easier to close in on the important parts of the demonstration so that all the pupils can see what’s happening. They were more focussed than they would have been if they were required to watch a live demonstration from a distance, but if they did become confused or forgot what to do next, the video could be replayed. It was a striking success. We’re now thinking of all the other ways in which we could derive benefit from this technique. I would imagine the ‘flipped classroom’ is not a million miles away.