As the landscape of education continues to evolve in response to global disruptions and digital advancements, blended learning models have surged in popularity. Among these is the flipped classroom model, a strategy that leverages video instruction to mitigate potential obstacles that make it challenging for students to access information presented live. However, I often hear the question, “Can I use the flipped classroom if I don’t assign homework?”
Challenges with Traditional Live Instruction
Traditionally, educators disseminate information in real-time, relying on lectures or mini-lessons. This method, however, may inadvertently create myriad barriers for students with hearing impairments, memory challenges, attention deficit disorders, insufficient background knowledge, or who lack familiarity with subject-specific or academic vocabulary. Moreover, the pacing of these live presentations is unlikely to accommodate all students’ learning needs.
To overcome these limitations, teachers can identify the instruction that they would present the same way for all students and create video instruction. When information is transferred using video instead of live instruction, students gain control over their learning experience. They have the luxury of pausing, rewinding, or rewatching videos to ensure they fully comprehend the material. Students can further personalize their experience by enabling closed captions or adjusting the video speed.
Using Instructional Videos in the Classroom
While teachers initially assigned video lessons as homework in the Flipped Classroom model to shift control over the time, place, and pace of learning to students in their home environments, this is not the only way to use this model. Some teachers do not assign homework. Others worry that students may not have access to technology beyond the classroom or those who do have access may not watch instructional videos outside of class.
Despite these potential pitfalls, flipped instruction retains its value even when videos are not assigned for homework. Teachers can integrate video instruction into class using playlists, choice boards, or as an online station in a station rotation lesson. This strategy, which I refer to as the “in-class flip” allows students to control the pace of their learning and refer back to the video any time they need to revisit that instruction.
Adopting an in-class flip format allows teachers to step away from the front of the room, giving students the reins to their learning journey. Instead of spending valuable class time on lecturing, teachers can focus on providing targeted feedback, conducting informative polls, leading small group instruction, scaffolding learning, and tailoring learning opportunities to individual student needs.
Using Flipped Instruction in a Whole Group Rotation
A great way to incorporate video instruction into the classroom is by building it into a whole group rotation lesson. This model rotates the entire class through a series of online and offline learning experiences. By using flipped instruction in a whole group rotation, teachers can create time to work with small groups of learners who would benefit from more differentiated or scaffolded explanations while the rest of the class can self-pace through the video content.
Simply showing an instructional video is not enough. Teachers must strive to make the experience engaging and interactive. One way to achieve this is by rotating students from a pre-video activity into the video lesson and ending with a post-video activity.
Teachers can use the pre-video activity to pique student interest, tap into their prior knowledge, or encourage them to brainstorm or make predictions. This creates context for the video they are about to watch, making it more relevant and meaningful.
- KWL Charts: Students create a chart divided into three columns: What they already “Know,” What they “Want” to know, and after watching the video, what they “Learned.” This activity taps into students’ prior knowledge and generates curiosity about what they will learn.
- Quick Writes: Teachers can present a prompt or question related to the video topic and ask students to spend a few minutes writing their thoughts. This encourages brainstorming and prediction.
- Mind Maps: Students can draw mind maps on the video’s topic, which encourages brainstorming, taps into prior knowledge, and prepares them to connect new information to existing knowledge structures.
- Anticipation Guides: These are short lists of statements related to the video topic that students respond to before watching the video. This strategy encourages students to predict what they will learn.
- Word Splash: Teachers present several words or phrases related to the video topic on the board, and students predict how these might relate to the video.
- See, Think, Wonder: Teachers can present students with some form of visual media (e.g., graph, picture) related to the video and ask students to move through the see, think, wonder thinking routine.
Pair The Video with an Engagement Strategy
While students are watching the video, teachers should pair the video with an engagement strategy to encourage students to think critically about the video content and engage with it in a dynamic way, increasing the likelihood that they will understand and retain the information.
- Guided Notes: These are handouts that outline or map the video content but leave blank spaces for key concepts, facts, or relationships. Students fill these in as they watch the video.
- Interactive Videos: Some platforms allow teachers to add questions, prompts, or additional information directly into the video. Students can interact with these as they watch.
- Pause and Reflect: Teachers can design intentional pause points in the video where students stop and reflect on what they’ve learned, make predictions, or connect new information to what they already know.
- Graphic Organizers: Students can use tools like Venn diagrams, flowcharts, or cause-and-effect charts to organize and represent information from the video.
- Sketchnoting/Doodling: As students watch the video, they draw or sketch their understanding of the content. This not only helps with information retention but also encourages creativity and deeper thinking.
- Video Analysis Worksheets: These are worksheets with open-ended questions that encourage students to think more deeply about the video content.
- Think-Pair-Share: During a pause in the video, the teacher asks a thought-provoking question. Students think about the answer individually, discuss it with a partner, and then share their responses with the class.
- Active Note-Taking: Instead of passively taking notes, students can be encouraged to write questions, make connections to other content, and note any confusing points for later discussion.
After watching the video, students should engage in an activity that requires them to communicate and collaborate with their peers, clarify any areas of confusion, reinforce their learning, and apply what they gained from the video.
- Reciprocal Teaching: Students are divided into groups and take turns teaching each other the concepts they’ve learned from the video.
- Mind Mapping: Students can create a mind map to represent the connections between the new concepts learned from the video and their existing knowledge.
- Learning Stations: Teachers can set up stations with different activities for students to apply what they’ve learned from the video.
- Exit Tickets: Students write a quick response to a prompt related to the video on a piece of paper (the “ticket”) and give it to the teacher before they leave the class.
- Discussion Circles: Students sit in a circle and discuss their reactions to, reflections on, and questions about the video.
- Role Play: Students can re-enact or dramatize concepts from the video to gain a deeper understanding.
- Journal Reflection: Students can write a reflection on what they’ve learned, how it connects to other things they know, and any questions they still have.
- Gallery Walk: Student groups can create a poster or visual representation of a concept from the video and then present it to the class during a gallery walk.
- Speed Dating: Students rotate and quickly share one thing they learned from the video with each of their classmates.
- Self-Assessment: Students can use a rubric to evaluate their understanding of the concepts learned from the video.
By using this three-part approach to flipped instruction in a whole group rotation, teachers can maximize the effectiveness of the model and free themselves to work with individual or small groups of learners who need more support. This is especially important for students with special needs or whose native or primary language is not English, as they may require different instruction than their peers.
Flipped instruction does not need to be relegated to homework to be a powerful strategy. When used in the classroom, flipped instruction removes common learning barriers and shifts students into the driver’s seat. Video instruction allows students to learn at their own pace and revisit the material whenever they need to. Meanwhile, teachers can escape the pressure they feel to be at the front of the room transferring information. Instead, they can focus their time and energy on guiding students and addressing individual learning needs. Adding interactive activities before, during, and after the video makes learning even more engaging and effective. When combined, these strategies lead to deeper understanding, increased student involvement, and a more supportive learning environment for everyone.
✨Curious about the flipped classroom? Want support creating your instructional videos? Check out my online mini-course on the flipped classroom model!