Flipped Classroom vs Flipped Teaching

I’m really puzzled by this flipped learning stuff.  I know that I need to learn more about it and put aside my initial feelings but I really don’t see the difference between flipped classrooms and simply good teaching techniques in class that give our students the active practice that they need.

I currently teach Grade 3.  I have heard about flipped classrooms and thought I had a fairly good understanding.  My understanding was that the teacher records their lesson and delivers it to the students to learn on their own. By doing this, the teacher feels that they can provide more active learning and “guide on the side” teaching while the students are in class.  Makes sense.  Sounds good.   Is it for Elementary? I really don’t know.  I am open to new thinking and new strategies.  However, let me break down my thinking in why I don’t initially see the benefit.

I have an active blog and constantly struggle with having kids connect at home.  I have had great success with the commenting feature and having kids engage with each other through my posts as well as having parents and family members get involved.  However, with many this activity is limited and their activity on my blog is limited to their own interest, remembering, and support from families.  So, time and support from home is a factor.  My students are 8 years old.  I can’t guarantee that all my parents will check their email in an evening.  I therefore definitely can’t guarantee that all of my students will listen to my lessons online.  Do I secretly wish they would all run home and want to hear me babble on for 20 minutes? Of course, but this is not reality!

Secondly, I never lecture in class to begin with.  My lessons or mini lessons are no more than 5-10 minutes with active participation followed by small group and individual practice.  I have time in my day to conference individually with students in their reading and writing and my differentiated math program allows me to meet with those struggling with concepts and provide what is needed for their learning.  Would this happen at home during a video? I really don’t see the benefit.

Thirdly, I think that a flipped classroom is really just good teaching and good management of your class time.  My approach to class time is short, focused lessons that allow the kids to get the concept, have time to practice which in turn allows me to do individual conferencing and follow up review with my group that needs support.  I feel that if I flipped everything and had my kids learning at home I would still need to provide that focused lesson in class because I couldn’t guarantee that every child had the opportunity to watch the video and have the support from their family to understand it.

I watched the video, From Questions to Concepts: Interactive Teaching in Physics (youtube link is having trouble) and took several notes that resonated with me.  I enjoyed how he said that questioning is better than telling.  He talked about the importance to teach with questioning rather than telling.  I loved his quote “you can forget facts but you cannot forget understanding” I think that my experience in a PYP classroom has given me the understanding of how important the questioning is and the need to teach conceptually to encourage deep understanding.  I think good teachers do this anyway and we try and find ways to use our class time to really help kids develop the skills to wonder, imagine and find new possibilities.

How does this relate to flipping a classroom? Well, I get the concept behind the flipped classroom in that the teacher can use their time effectively for learning. But, aren’t there other ways to do it? Can good teaching looks like a flipped classroom? At least in the elementary I don’t see it working.  I think we can still be creative in how we use the time and deliver the content to work in a meaningful way.

I came across this blog post on flipped classrooms in the primary years. I agree with the author of this post when she distinguishes between flipped classrooms and flipped teaching.
The question she challenges is : What is the best use of your class time? Can we flip our teaching to best engage our students by creatively delivering your lessons that promotes more time for kids to explore and practice?

One step at a time. I am learning and I am open to new things.  I just don’t see this one being a valuable one in the context I am understanding it.  I think if I use class time well then I can have the same effect.

Do any other elementary teachers flip their classroom? What is the benefit? What does it look like? I am curious…

4 thoughts on “Flipped Classroom vs Flipped Teaching

  • My thoughts of Flipped Classroom keep evolving. I would never record a 20 minute lecture (boring for everyone involved). But I have recorded 3-4 minutes of feedback on an assignment. Is that flipped? Wondering if it’s worth while flipping the classroom for parents, especially in elementary.

    I also think the traditional understanding of Flipped Classroom doesn’t resonate with teachers in elementary. Hoping you find some examples for other Grade 3 teachers that maybe work in your teaching environment. Please share if you do!

    • Hey Rebekah
      Thanks for that. My notion of flipped classroom or flipped learning has evolved after reading others’ posts and comments. I think that there is some value in providing that feedback to parents. I think that I have come to see a flipped elementary room as more thinking of how to free up time to work more 1-1 with the kids. That might look different depending on the class or teacher.

  • Tim , I absolutely agree with you- a flipped classroom at the early elementary years could just not work exactly for all the reasons that you mention. The children being too young and dependent on their parents ( and parents being too busy in this day and age to follow up daily on e-mails) is something that would surely take away from the kids, who do not get to review at home, because their parents are either too busy, do not have internet access or just lack general interest/involvement in their child’s learning. As you know I teach even younger kids and truthfully, I think that when it comes to the younger learners the ‘flipping’ should be related more to the parents: engage the parents at home (the ones that are interested) and teach them how to help their children learn/review better. That’s the only way I can truly see this work at this age level!

  • Flipped classroom approach can be incorporated to the young learner at their level. In a traditional classroom situation students are assigned something to read, in a flipped classroom students guided through learning module that asks and collects questions. Teacher prepares students for a learning opportunity as opposed preparing lecture. They will not have a limited information about what to expect but have a specific question in mind to guide the kids learning. So if we want our kids to practice applying the key concept with feed back, tackling homework without teacher’s help flipped classroom can be very helpful.

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