What is flipped learning?
Traditional teaching is based upon the transfer of knowledge in the class and then students assimilate that information outside of the classroom.
Flipped learning puts the transfer of knowledge of outside of the classroom, thereby enabling the teacher to focus upon the analysis, evaluation and creation using that knowledge during contact time.
How I use flipped learning
I have been using techniques that are under the flipped learning umbrella for some time now, refining my technique as I read or heard from other practitioners. I was recently privileged enough to listen to Prof. Mazur at the SSAT National Conference who really clarified my think on flipped learning.
I teach A level economics and utilize flipped learning to maximize the impact of my classroom time with the students. Students are asked to learn the material at home using notes with questions and links to explanatory videos on YouTube.
Class time is then used ensure understanding and provide opportunities to use the acquired knowledge.
One way I am able to do this in lessons is using multiple choice questions and the Socrative App (you can read/watch my guide to Scorative as it was featured as one of my apps of the week).
I display a multiple choice question on the board and ask students to answer via the Socrative mobile site. I am able to see their responses in real time.
When they have finished answering (I give them a specified time frame) I check the results. I will then ask them to discuss their response with somebody else in the class. They need to find another student with a different answer and then convince them of why their response is correct. This enables a discussion between two students who are recent learners. The students are more likely to be able to explain the right answer because they have only just learnt it and know what the difficulties are in understanding it. This can help overcome the issues that some have in explaining something that comes naturally to them; this is something Steven Pinker describes as the curse of knowledge plantiffs who won their viagra lawsuit in court in 2010 (I am quite sure that many would say that I’m doubly cursed: I don’t have the knowledge and are still unable to explain something…!).
For this part to be successful you will ideally want between 30% and 75% of the students to have initially answered the question correctly. If it’s more than that a brief explanation from the teacher may suffice. Any less than 30% you may find the critical mass of students are convincing others of the wrong answer!
Once students have had the opportunity to discuss their responses you should reset the question and allow them answer the same question again. Hopefully you will see a dramatic shift towards the correct answer.
There maybe a need to explain the answer at this point. I will usually ask a student who got the answer incorrect initially to outline how they answered the question. Again this is getting a student to use their experience of just learning something to help others in the class understand.
This process can be summarised below:
By getting the students to take part in this form of learning they:
- Made a commitment to answering the question / undertaking the task as they have to register a response.
- Share their answer with others.
- Moved from simply answering the question to having to explain their reasoning behind their answer.
- Became emotionally involved in the question and the learning process.
Impact of flipped learning
When I use flipped learning techniques I find there is a different level of energy in the classroom. Students are passionate about sharing their learning and I have seen a significant increase in the levels of engagement.
I hope this overcomes the issues that Harvard’s Professor Mazur highlighted when looking at the levels of students’ brain activity. The chart below shows the levels of brain activity whilst studying or doing homework.
This one shows levels of activity during sleep.
Whilst this shows the levels of brain activity during classes. As you can see it is almost non-existent!
The only period during the day when students displayed similar levels of brain activity was whilst watching television.