Can You Flip an Elementary Classroom?

Flip Your Classroom, by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, describes the evolution of thinking that led to two teachers’ “flipping” their classrooms as well as provides a how-to guide for teachers interested in flipping their own classrooms or learning more about the approach. As described in the book, the concept of a flipped classroom is,

“that which is traditionally done in class is now done at home, and that which is traditionally done as homework is now completed in class.”

If you haven’t already heard of this approach, it basically means that which is traditionally done in class is converted into recorded sessions of the teacher actually teaching the material and watched at home as online videos that the students can easily access and re-access as needed. Students then return to school the following day to do what would traditionally be the homework. The advantage is that now the students have the teacher present in the classroom for when they have any questions or if they get stuck. This allows the teacher to learn where the students are struggling at the actual moment that it occurs, and the student gets immediate feedback and is able to learn and move forward in the classroom.

While reading this book as an aspiring elementary teacher, I started to wonder if this could work in the elementary classrooms. In elementary classrooms, students range from ages 5 to 12 years-old. Does this age even have computer time at home in the evenings? It sounds so great for middle school and high school students, but how could I adapt this style of teaching to fit younger students? Would it be beneficial to them as well? After doing a little research, I realized I wasn’t the only one asking these questions.

In-Class Flip

One teacher had the solution to do an “in-class flip” for her first graders. This type of flip included showing her video at the beginning of each class rather than requiring the students to watch at home. Since it was recorded, she was able to move on for those who understood right away and allowed those who didn’t understand to watch and re-watch the video as needed.

Videos for Homework

A second grade teacher described how she flipped her classroom during a unit on Explorers. She assigned their “homework” as watching explorers videos on National Geographic Kids or Biography.com. The idea was that her students would come in the following day with some knowledge of explorers so that she could begin her classwork from there.

Flip the Lesson

As my research went deeper, I discovered that Jon Bergmann had been asked this question quite often. On his website, JonBergmann.com,  Bergmann says, “Don’t flip a class: Flip a lesson.” He describes this method as choosing a lesson that you feel needs more than the traditional teaching methods. Make a short video asking yourself, what do my students really need extra help on. Be careful to think about how your students will access the video. (Some parents may not want their young child on YouTube.) You also want to be sure every child has access to the video. The best way may even be that the students watch the video in class. Lastly, you want to make sure you have a way to check if they watched the video or not. I think the main point in flipping a lesson verses the whole class, is that the videos should only be used as extra help for the particularly difficult lessons.

The good news is, it seems that there are several ways to “flip” the elementary classroom. The idea is to make sure you are doing what is most beneficial to your students with whatever method you chose.

 

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