I love the flip. I do. And I realize by saying this I’m making a controversial statement. I believe if used judiciously, in the right context, the flip can free up valuable class time and provide the background knowledge that is fundamental for students to then go forward and wrestle with higher order thinking.
The flip that I’m talking about is the flipped classroom or reverse instruction. It’s called the flip because, essentially, it reverses traditional teaching. Instead of lectures occurring in the classroom and assignments being done at home, the opposite occurs. Lectures are viewed at home by students, via videos or podcasts, and class time is devoted to assignments or projects based on this knowledge. It’s different from traditional homework because students know that we won’t spend the next class period going over the content they’ve engaged with at home. Instead, we’ll use it as a springboard into deeper discussion and activities. Brilliant.
As much as I like the flip, I don’t believe that it’s the savior of education (or the epitome of evil) as some would suggest. The point of the flip is to capture more of the time when teacher and students are together for deeper learning — to create more opportunities to apply knowledge and skills to challenging in-class assignments. Bottom line: it’s not always the right instructional choice, it’s only one tool in our educational repertoire. But it can be a powerful one.
Some believe that the flip is somehow designed to replace teachers. I think that’s only possible if you think the most important, or sole, job that I perform in my classroom is content dispenser. I don’t believe that at all.
As a teacher, my job is to facilitate my students’ acquisition of skills and understanding. I do that using different kinds of content. I also challenge them, encourage them, believe in them, love them, and offer correction when necessary. The most important thing I do in my classroom is show students how to dig deep, solve problems, and reflect carefully on the constant stream of information that inundates us all. At the same time, I’m modelling important learning skills that they’ll need for the rest of their lives. Continue reading