Friday / April 12

Flipping Over Summer Break: How Flipping Classrooms Can Improve Learning

Flipping classrooms

Contributed by Kathleen Fulton

As the school year comes to an end, teachers deserve a big pat on the back for a job well done. Most teachers are naturally thinking back on what worked with their kids this year, and what they hope to do better in the year ahead. Some are frustrated that they didn’t get through all the content they hoped to teach—there’s never enough time—or get to know individual students’ learning styles so they could build on their strengths and address gaps. But summer is a great time to focus on new opportunities and techniques for enhancing instruction.

One such approach is flipping the classroom. When teachers “flip” their instruction, they are able to use class time for hands-on learning activities because they have “off loaded” the lecture portion of their lesson as homework. Some teachers begin by using lessons recorded by other teachers or use videos from educational sources online (e.g. Khan Academy alone offers thousands of free video lessons on topics of all kinds, at all levels). Most teachers, however, prefer to produce their own lessons. There is a growing base of software and applications for capturing this content—on audio files, video files, power point presentations, or screen shot captures of a teacher working on a whiteboard. Whatever the format, the student accesses the information portion of the lesson outside of class, as homework, using whatever technology is at hand—desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or Smartphone.

Why do teachers flip?

As I describe in my book, Time for Learning: Top 10 Reasons Why Flipping the Classroom Can Change Education, there are many reasons why flipped teaching (or flipped learning) which started as a grassroots movement is spreading like wildfire from teacher to teacher. First, teachers are excited about how the time freed by sending lessons home means more time in class to work with students. This translates to greater opportunities to watch students doing problems they may have been struggling to complete at home in the past, and provide the needed assistance right there in the classroom. And flipping teachers find that students can pace their learning by rewinding video lessons as needed for review and clarification, or even (egad!) fast forwarding through a lesson if they already get it. Teachers often embed a few questions in the lesson or ask students to complete them when they first come to class, to check on mastery and ensure that the video lesson was indeed watched.

Flipping teachers are also capturing data on their students’ achievement, which in most cases provides evidence that flipping helps more students achieve mastery more quickly than was the case with pre-flipped teaching. That data, surveys, and first hand observation of students’ increased motivation are evidence enough for teachers continue flipping their instruction. Flipped teachers also love having time in class for the project-based learning, peer instruction, inquiry learning, or other learning activities that engage students more actively during class time. Once parents understand why their children are watching videos for homework, they are pleased they no longer have to help their kids with homework that neither the parent nor child understands!

Why do administrators support flipping?

Many administrators are finding that enough students today have their own mobile technologies to adopt a “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) approach. School resources—the laptops and tablets purchased for one-to-one initiatives—can be used as supplements for students who don’t have their own devices. Administrators also appreciate the textbook savings resulting from the shift to a digital curriculum. Administrators and teachers both value the teacher learning that occurs when teachers can view each other’s lessons and collaborate on lessons that can be shared.

Where can you get more information?

Thanks to social media, the web is full of resources. The first stop is the Flipped Learning Network ™, which posts resources, and hosts an online community of practice (a NING) with over 20,000 members. The Flipped Learning Network also sponsors an annual a face-to-face and virtual conference, FlipCon14, which will be held this year in Mars, Pennsylvania from June 23–25. CanFlip, a conference sponsored by Canadian educators, will be held June 19–20 in Kelowna, British Columbia. Online professional communities like EdWeb’s Flipped Learning Community also serve the interests of active and potential flipping teachers and administrators with webinars, discussion groups, and networking opportunities. And of course, be sure to read my book!

Happy summer reading, researching, planning, and getting geared up for a great 2014/15 school year!



Kathleen Fulton

Kathleen Fulton is a writer and education consultant who specializes in educational innovation, teachers, and technology. Her recent book, Time for Learning: Top 10 Reasons Why Flipping the Classroom Can Change Education, was published by Corwin in June. Check out her website or email her directly at


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