3 reasons you should embrace flipped learning

Critics say flipped learning is just a new way to say 'pre-reading', but there's a lot more to it than that if you use it correctly

Michaela Penney and Sarah Taylor

Pedagogy Focus: What is flipped learning?

Rashid is starting a new concept with his Year 9 maths class. His exposition is spot-on: he uses a video clip, right examples, wrong examples, and even works through a problem with them.

He then asks a question and pauses before he chooses which student to call on for an answer.

But as he looks at the row after row of blank, quizzical expressions, his heart sinks.  This is not the start he hoped for. 

Perhaps where Rashid went wrong was starting at the beginning. 

How to flip it?

We know how classroom learning normally works: new content is introduced to students in the classroom, and then they deepen this knowledge at home with extension tasks. Flipped learning turns this on its head. Students begin their learning at home, and then have it deepened in the classroom.

With this new model, they arrive in the classroom with a good foundation of knowledge, and can even have an initial attempt at an exam question – both of which the teacher can then use to develop their application skills.

This means teachers become facilitators that help oversee and develop students’ knowledge and skills rather than spoon-feeding them.

They have the time to address students’ questions in the classroom and to develop higher thinking skills, too.

The science of the flip

There has been a growing trend of research into flipped learning that has a statistically significant wave of support for the approach (Cheng, Ritzhaupt and Antonenko, 2018). It helps to promote and develop independent learning and encourages students to take ownership of their education.

The research has shown that it helps to increase students’ self-efficacy, schedule their out of class time revising, thus leading to effective learning and better learning achievement (Lai and Hwang, 2016).

So what might this look like in the classroom? One way is using a flipped learning mat. This looks like one sheet of paper that covers a particular topic – a bit like a knowledge organiser.

Using this worksheet, students have to research to gather the information required to answer lower-level AO1 identify and describe questions; saving lesson time and promoting independent learning at the same time.

In order to ensure the challenge isn’t too onerous, it's important to make sure the focus is on the more basic part of the topic, and then the teacher can go on to teach and develop analysis and evaluation skills within the lesson.

The advantages of this lesson planning approach are many but these are the three most fundamental.

1. Flying start

The information your students have already researched for themselves can be used for starters, quizzes or competitions, which in turn gives you the opportunity to not only check their knowledge but to ascertain whether they have researched correctly.

To vary the lesson pace quick-fire questions can be included too before settling into the task of deepening their knowledge and understanding of the topic area.

2. DIY revision materials

If one phrase is sure to be heard up and down the corridors of a school in the summer term it is the cry of "But how do I revise?" However, if you’ve been using a flipped learning approach, the student will already have built up a bank of learning resources while simultaneously creating revision guides, too, through this method of teaching.

3. Keep you ahead of the game

Some students will always be flying ahead, and need more challenge. If you’ve prepared these flipped learning mats, it means that you have easy resources to throw their way every time you need something extra to stretch a student a little bit further.

I found flipped learning worked so well, it led me to create Answer PErfect. This is an online collection of resources that include examination PE video tutorials, flipped learning mats, and more.

Extended questions are a national weakness and we wanted to create something to help give us time in the classroom to focus on helping our students write in more detail for essay style questions.

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Michaela Penney and Sarah Taylor

Michaela & Sarah are the co-founders of Answer PErfect, an online resource aimed at flipped learning and extended questions. It can be found at www.answerperfect.co.uk and on Twitter @answer_PErfect.

Find me on Twitter @answer_PErfect

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