The Flipped Classroom

I have spent the last few years researching, attending conferences and talking with teachers in order to learn more about the flipped classroom. Last year, I incorporated aspects of the flipped classroom into my 6th grade science classroom. The thing I love most about the flipped classroom is that there is more than one way to implement it into your classroom. Todd Nesonley (@TechNinjaTodd) said it best in this week’s EDIM 516 video chat, “We all take and bend and meld it to what fits us, our comfort zones and our students.”

I set up my flipped classroom in stages and slowly gave my students more responsibility for their own learning. We started out the year by watching the videos together as I modeled the best way to engage with the videos, write down questions, and pause/rewind when needed. We used learning contracts, choice boards and other learning tools to make the classroom an active learning environment. Samples of these can be found at As we progressed through the year many students would watch the videos at home and come to class ready to ask questions and begin interacting with each other and the content in different ways. Some students really struggled with watching at home for different reasons including lack of technology, inability to understand the content without teacher guidance, or a simple lack of interest. These students often watched the videos when they came to class. Some students preferred to watch in class and would often pause the video to ask questions and get clarification before continuing. Sometimes I would need to sit with the student(s) as they watched and tell them when to pause so I could explain important vocabulary and discuss examples to help them create connections to the content.

As with most new things, I expected some parent resistance. I created a flipped classroom video for my parents that explained what we would be doing and why. I stressed that this method made it possible for me to differentiate for student needs and to interact with all of my students daily. The parents actually looked forward to the videos as the year progressed. They told me they felt a part of our classroom because they knew exactly what their child was learning.

Not everyone is a fan of the flipped classroom. My assistant principal and I were discussing this earlier this year. What happens when a child struggles to learn from the videos or refuses to watch them? The teacher is the solution. The teacher has a variety of roles in the flipped classroom depending upon the needs of the students. The flipped model is what you make of it and you adjust strategies and instruction to meet the needs of all your students. The flipped model actually gives you the gift of time to interact and have discussions with your students during class time.

I did not flip my classroom this year. I switched school districts and grade levels and thought it might be overwhelming for me. Planning for instruction in a flipped classroom takes a lot of time but you definitely get that time back as you interact with students during class time. I am in the planning stages of flipping my 7th grade science classroom next year. I will be the first teacher to use this method in my district. I expect some resistance from students, parents and even some fellow teachers, although my administrators are completely on board. My first step is communication. I need to inform my incoming students and their parents about the flipped classroom, the reasons I am using it in my classroom and how I will meet the needs of all my students.

Since the flipped model can look different in every classroom, it is very difficult to define it. This video does a great job of explaining what the flipped classroom is not. has a great flipped classroom certification which takes you through different tutorials to understand this method of teaching. The book Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann (@jonbergmann) and Aaron Sams (@chemicalsams) is also a great resource.

What is your perspective of the flipped classroom? Do the Pros outweigh the Cons?

Flipped Classroom Your journey your wayBergmann and Sams

Flipped Classroom Conference in Allen, TX – July 2013

More Resources:
10 Pros and Cons of the Flipped Classroom
Flip Without Internet Part 1 and Part 2
The Four Pillars of F-L-I-P
Archived Webinars from the Flipped Learning Network

10 thoughts on “The Flipped Classroom

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  1. Again it is so nice to hear from someone who has officially flipped their own classroom. I was interested to read about how your parents responded. As a parent myself I often wonder what goes on during my childs school day and how I can help them. The videos that you produce probably help parents feel connected but also allow them to understand the content so that they can help their students learn. I am curious about what platform you use to communicate with parents. Do they check your website or do you email them in groups or individually? I am always trying to find a good way to keep parents informed but with my 120 students a day it is difficult to make phone calls and keep everyone on the same page. A good website, emailing list or youtube channel may be a big help for me. Your ideas about watching the videos together and modeling ways to engage in them is also really interesting. This is something that I will absolutley have to do with my kids as I begin the process next school year. I worried about having any trouble with kids who do not have access to the technology or who didn’t do the work at home, but I see your point that if the classroom is flipped and diverse some kids may choose to watch the videos at school and that is reasonable for them. Thanks for the real life examples,

    1. Tim,
      I’m glad that my post was helpful. I update my school website weekly and email my parents through our gradebook (Skyward). It allows me to type one message and select which class periods the message will go to. I stress to parents at the beginning of the year how important it is that their information is up to date. I used my school website to upload the current unit’s video but kept a separate page that students could refer to all year long. 6th grade Science blog – The videos in the blog are from my YouTube channel – Students could not access YouTube from school which is why I would upload the current video file to my school website. I always tried to make each unit’s activities something new. One unit would be a learning contract then a choice board. Towards the end of the year I adapted Crystal Kirch’s ( math WSQ (wisk) for my science classroom. It stands for Watch, Summarize, Question. I noticed my students weren’t watching the videos as consistently during the spring semester so we started watching them in class. The videos were longer but would tell students to pause at a certain point and go complete an activity before continuing. It’s all about your students and what works best for you. This year I’m not flipping my classroom but created a separate blog page for my 7th graders. I keep current information on my school website but build the blog for the entire year and put the link on my school website for easy access. 7th grade science blog – Hope it goes well for you and let me know if I can help! 🙂
      Michelle (@gobluefamily)

  2. Your six word story definitely captured the essence of flipped learning. Learning really is a personal journey that so many students have given up to the teacher instead of seizing for themselves.

    I agree with Tim that it is very helpful to read the perspective of a teacher that we know (digitally) that has flipped a classroom. Your insight is very valuable for someone who is considering giving the flipped classroom a go. One comment you made the particularly resonated with me is the video you prepared for parents. I think all teachers have parents on their mind but with time constraints imposed on every human, parents are often the first ones to get lost in the communication track. By including parents right from the start, you set yourself up for great success.

    Another helpful idea in your post is about the students who simply don’t want to watch a video. Just because we live in a highly digital world doesn’t mean that every student wants to watch videos. Some students prefer to work with their hands and just dive in. Your post puts this into perspective by suggesting that the teacher is free to differentiate as needed for each student. To me that is the biggest benefit of a flipped classroom.

    Your posts never disappoint. They are thorough and filled with great wisdom and links that support your positions. You are a great contributor to my ongoing education, and I value your work.

    One question I have for you that I have posed to other teachers as well is in the area of assessment with flipped learning. Can you briefly explain how your assessment approach changed during the flipped classroom year?

    1. Laurie,
      Thank you for your kind words! I really enjoy using technology in my classroom and sharing my experiences. I have learned that parents are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt if they feel informed. I would have had more push back from them if I hadn’t done everything possible to explain why I was using the flipped method and let them know I had done my research and wasn’t “flying by the seat of my pants.” A transparent classroom is the best way to get support from parents and for them to feel involved in what is going on. The kids definitely feel the difference as well. As for assessment, even though I was using the flipped model, I was not completely paperless. I created learning contracts and other assessment activities. Part of the process often involved students designing and completing a lab activity. I also used rubrics, quizzes and tests. We completed many projects but were not fully utilizing PBL. Examples of the activities can be found at and one of our digital storytelling projects can be found at We did this digital story of the rock cycle during my EDIM Digital Storytelling class. 🙂

  3. Hi Tim,

    I teach in a district that has a high poverty rate and a lot of families do not have computers or internet access. I do think a flipped classroom would work otherwise for me. I teach art and if I could have the students watch or listen to the lecture at home that would leave more time for the actual art making. Parents don’t really ask “what did you learn in art?”, they ask “what did you make?” You mentioned how the teacher is the solution when a child needs help beyond the video and whatnot, but didn’t that create more work for you and did it affect the rest of the classroom having to catch others up?
    Great post!

    1. Kyle,
      You ask some great questions. I used items like learning contracts ( to structure my classroom activities. For example, with my force and motion unit. Students were instructed to watch the video at home. When they came to class they answered a few comprehension questions. (If they didn’t watch the video, that’s what they did first.) I checked the answers to their questions before they could move on to the next step. If they needed more clarification on a certain question, I gave them a link or activity to complete. If they had thorough understanding of the concepts they went on to design a lab activity. Everyone in the room was working at their own pace on different activities. I included enrichment activities for those students that finished before the others. Not everyone has to complete the same activities to gain mastery in my classroom. I have activities that are required and then I include enrichment activities. If someone were to enter my room it might look a bit chaotic but I like to describe it as organized chaos. Everyone is engaged is the learning of the concept, but not always on the same activity. The planning for this type of classroom is the most work. During class time I spend my time discussing and interacting with my students. The students that understand the concepts and finish quickly don’t have to wait on the others, they have higher level enrichment activities to keep them engaged.

  4. Hey Michelle,
    As always…WOW what an awesome post! You have most certainly given me confidence that the flipped classroom can work! I think you brought up a great point on how you introduce the flipped classroom. It’s important to remember that you can’t just throw something at students and expect them to pick it up right away, At the elementary level, I feel that the introduction of a flipped classroom, can be broken apart by grade level. Ex: Third grade can start with introducing the videos, but watch the videos together in class. fourth grade you can start to integrate the independent learning while still in class and by fifth grade, students can now be 100% responsible for learning through the videos on their own.Overall, I love the idea of a flipped classroom and would love to try this someday. Thanks again for your awesome insight.

  5. Abby,
    Thanks so much. Your plan to start slow and build in each grade level is a great idea! It gives the teachers and students time to adjust to the change. It will also help with planning if teachers at each level share their experiences and insights. It’s really helpful if you have other teachers to collaborate and problem solve with as you implement this method.

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