Flipped Learning

Flipped Learning is where students learn the basic concepts before class that were normally given during a traditional lecture during class.  This learning of the material before class is often done by a video but can be done via other methods too.  Class time is then used for more student centered learning or active learning.  The flipped learning idea was pioneered by Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann when they were chemistry teachers in Woodland Park, Colorado.  They noticed in a flipped environment that students were actually doing chemistry with labs rather than learning about chemistry in a lecture based classroom.

I have been flipping my classroom since the fall of 2010.  I have noticed in a mathematics classroom that students are spending class time doing math.  When I was lecturing, my students would passively sit in class listening to me, or hopefully listening to me, do mathematics on my SMART Board.   Students would maybe get time to try a few easy problems in class then would have to do the hard mathematics problems at home without any help or resources.  This typically ended up with students getting frustrated and not being able to complete their problems.  In my flipped classroom students come to class having learned the basic material by watching my lesson videos and can spend class time working on mathematics problems.  My students enjoy this because they are able to tackle the "difficult" part of learning in the classroom where there is immediate help available from the teacher and peers.  The number of students coming in before school or staying after school to get extra help dropped greatly in the flipped environment.  

YouTube Video

Some teachers have required students to watch the video at home and have a penalty if the "homework" is not completed, and others allows students to watch the video lesson in the classroom if they did not get the video watched before class.  Most students will watch the video at home, which leaves more time for them to work on stuff in class where they can ask peers and the teacher for help if needed.

Our  classrooms look like they did in a traditional class when there was work time, but to improve the effectiveness of the Flipped Classroom, we often start class with either Q&A on the video and/or key questions that reinfo
rces the concepts of the lesson.  In some classes we are using five question formative quizzes on SMART Responders to check for understanding on the key concepts.


The Flipped Classroom often allows more time for projects, application problems, or more labs in a science classroom.

With the Flipped Classroom in a math classroom, students are busy doing math rather than passively sitting in their desks watching the teacher do the math on the SMART Board.  The general idea of the Flipped Classroom has been used for decades in English classes since English teachers often have assigned students to read part of a novel as homework then they use class time to discuss and analyze the material that students learned at home.  Recording lesson videos is the mathematics or science equivalent to assigning "reading" for homework.

Most of our videos are 10 to 15 minutes long, but for a few lessons that are longer, students need two videos; YouTube currently has a 15 minutes maximum on any video upload, and research shows that shorter, "chunked" videos are better for learning.

Flipped learning works great, but to improve the use of my class time with my students, I am using peer instruction.  Check out the Peer Instruction Flipped Learning Model.

Benefits of Flipped Learning

  • I have noticed a decrease in my students' frustration and stress level.  
  • My students are actively engaged in doing mathematics rather than passively learning about mathematics.  I am no longer the source of information but more of a coach to work with each individual student. 
  • I have been able to develop better relationships with students.
  • Students are taking more responsibility for their own learning.
  • Students are treated as individuals and individual learning needs can be addressed.
  • I have more time for curriculum.
  • I have more time for projects, applications, and hands-on activities.
  • There is more flexibility in how students learn.
It is important to remember to teach students how to watch a video for learning.  Students are used to watching videos for entertainment, but watching videos for learning is totally different.  I recommend on the first day you watch the video in class with your students and  model when to pause the video and when to rewind the video.   We as teachers need to model to students how to engage in the video lesson in addition to making our lessons engaging.