The Flip Side

I’ve read a lot about flipping classrooms, and it’s a topic I am very interested in. As one of my individual professional development goals, at the start of last year (2014) I began to create videos and use other videos I found online to send home with students as “homework”. When students would watch the videos, the idea would be that they’d see and internalize the lesson, then come back to me having some sort of background knowledge and preparation for the lesson the next day.

While I thought it was a great idea, there were some parents who weren’t totally thrilled. Some teachers (especially those in the middle school), started to hear that parents felt it was out responsibility to teach, that home was strictly for review and practice, and that lessons online weren’t the same as hearing it and seeing it from your teacher. I can definitely understand parent perspective, but with a lot of time and energy being placed into preparing these lessons and recording yourself, it was a little tough to hear. I created a modified version of sorts, where I reviewed skills on camera, or introduced skills that built upon skills my students had a solid foundation with already. Especially in elementary school, I found that students seeing their teacher, interacting with me, using manipulatives, and being able to ask me questions is essential.


I still love the idea of a flipped classroom. I love that students feel prepared and excited about discussing what they saw the night before. My kids come in whispering about the “secret word” I put into my videos (to assure they watched them). They feel smart when they come in knowing about a skill or trick. This confidence is super helpful, and I see how it positively affects my students. There are a ton of ways to create a flipped classroom or a “kind of” flipped classroom, where students can benefit from direct instruction, small group work, and centers with me, but then also experience the benefits of the flipped model. My school community, like parents, administrators, grade level team members, and other elementary school teachers I work with are not ready for a complete flipped type of model, and I’m the only elementary school teacher in my building who has incorporated it at all. It’s a different way of thinking, and it isn’t something that everyone is ready for. Despite really liking it and seeing a ton of benefits, I also admit to not being totally ready for a flipped model, especially in my language arts instruction.

With all that being said, I got some awesome new ideas from searching online, but especially from exploring on Twitter. The community of educators using Twitter shocks me…very few people I normally interact with use Twitter, and I don’t know a single person in my elementary school (3 teachers per grade level) who uses it. I asked everyone yesterday at a faculty meeting, and not a single person raised their hand. I think we might be seriously missing out…


This picture I found inspired me to remember that flipped classroom ideas don’t need to be just instructional videos, but I think that’s what a majority of people assume. This picture bring up some great, creative resources that a teacher might use to “flip” class. f1d0d337a9f0ba76aa7b209f67a440b2



I really loved some of the ideas from this photo, because I felt like I was a little narrow minded about how many ways you can use a flipped classroom model. I think if I taught upper grades, I would be running with it. I’m still trying to figure out how it works for my kids in 3rd grade. What has worked for me so far, is to create my own videos using a document camera or my phone. I think if you make it too complicated, and spend hours and hours scripting and planning, it can be too much of a burden. In addition, when you’re too rehearsed, kids can tell. Being yourself and approachable is important, even if it’s on video. I nade the mistake of being too formal in my first few videos. I also made the mistake of saving some videos to my hard drive, uploadnig the across several different YouTube accounts, and sending some links through Google Drive. I am kicking myself for not streamlining and organizing my content, especially when I want to assign something I used from a past year.


Here is an example of a video I gave for homework tonight:

Though it’s informal and really nothing spectacular…my kids LOVE it. They love that I’m the only teacher in 3rd grade that does this, too!


Sometimes I involve my class when I’m recording a trick or skill, like in this video:


These are just some examples of how I’ve tapped into the idea of a flipped classroom. There are so many ways to implement this, and so many benefits of doing so. I am looking forward to learning new things and expanding collections of videos and resources to share with my kids!


12 thoughts on “The Flip Side

  1. Thanks for sharing! I loved the image. I too didn’t realize how many ways you could “flip” your classroom. I also appreciate you sharing feedback from parents. I worry about how this would be received, but I think once they realize how much extra time is created for their child, they would appreciate it!

    • Some parents loved that their kids were freed from that monotony of pen and pencil worksheets. Personally, I would love to see my kids come home with some assignments like this. They’re way too little now, but maybe someday they’ll have a teacher who supports the idea!

      • I am excited to try this with my students just to get their feedback. As much as we sometimes hate asking our students what they think, I truly value their feedback!

  2. Hi, Erin,

    One thing I kept noticing as I collected resources for my magazine and participated in the #flipclass chat on Twitter was how important the personalized videos seem to be. One of the first questions I had was about engagement when students watch a video for ‘homework’. Do they hit play and sit passively until it is over, or do they have a graphic organizer to take notes? I like the idea of front-loading information for science and social studies, and having videos to support struggling learners, but my concern was that many of the videos I currently use, like Learn Zillion, can be a bit too much like direct instruction. When I use them in class, we stop at different points and respond, connect or reflect, and sometimes I only use a minute or two instead of the whole thing. Thanks for sharing your experience with creating your own and about the organization. There is so much to consider when we try new approaches. Sharing what works, and did not, is so helpful to other educators.
    I love the ideas on the 27 ways image. I see some things I could try with 5th graders as a way to differentiate.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Those are super important questions you asked. I do think as students get older, that secondary piece of note taking or recording would make them more responsible for actually learning from, and paying close attention to flipped assignments.

    • By the way, I also use Learn Zillion and have asked myself the same questions. Sometimes students zone out for those minutes of video instruction. Stopping and starting to ask questions and discuss makes it a more valuable tool.

  3. Great job Erin. Change among parents is always a struggle educators will face. I’m glad you made changes to modify what you do. Hopefully parents will go with the switch and realize that it is only bettering the child and making them prepared for the instruction that is going to take place in class the next day.

    • I used my document camera! It isn’t anything spectacular, but it makes it easy and simple to create videos. I think ease of creation and sharing content is important if you want to stick to making videos or slides without feeling too overwhelmed by the idea of constantly creating, sharing, editing, etc.

  4. Hi Erin,
    It looks like you are out there in the forefront of our (way too slow) transition from the old, 19th-20th century model of teaching. It is unfortunate that you received negative feedback from some parents. Unfortunately, some people do not adapt well to change and automatically invalidate any approaches that they are not familiar with. It is too bad they do not have the vision to see the potential for deep learning and understanding of topics for their children as they come into your classroom with background knowledge and basic skills that allow them to be guided by you to explore the topics with greater depth.

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