Why I stopped flipping

Flip Flops

Four years ago, just before it became heavily commercialized, I flipped my classroom. I created video lessons that my students watched for homework. Class time was used for enrichment, reflection, and collaborative work. I ran with the model for a year and a half.

The other day, out of the blue, I was asked why I stopped. That made me think: back when I stopped flipping, I didn’t have this blog and never wrote about why I stopped. Here goes. Four years later.

Before flipping, I usually lectured. Sure, I disguised it with an enthusiastic and energetic delivery, but I lectured nonetheless. I wasn’t critical of my own teaching at the time, so I didn’t really think twice about it.

After I flipped, I had significantly more facetime with my kids and they had more time to reinforce new concepts. I was really happy about this. My students sat back absorbing new content like sponges, this time from a video embedded with summary questions. After all, a video lecture, however dressed up, is still a lecture.

The problem was that students weren’t discovering mathematics from my lessons. They weren’t interacting with mathematics or each other during the learning process. They weren’t debating with one another while learning something new. They weren’t being asked to find patterns and discuss them with a partner. They weren’t being challenged to make connections and develop understanding. They were using technology for learning, but not to learn. Their first impressions of so many beautiful mathematical ideas included pausing and rewinding a video that contained my face. In short, they didn’t construct their own learning. I did all of that for them.

I stopped flipping my classroom because I realized that I wasn’t flipping student learning, I was simply flipping my teaching.

I discovered that I needed them to take ownership and discover how and what they learned. What’s ironic is that I actually had to flip my classroom in order to realize this. Flipping allowed me to see my lessons through a more concentrated lens that highlighted my teacher-centered approach. More on this.

Four years later, do I regret flipping my classroom? Not a chance.



4 thoughts on “Why I stopped flipping”

  1. Hi there, an interesting article. I currently use a flipped approach (or at least I’m attempting to) and I feel that your insights resonate with me a little. When students come to class after viewing a video lecture, I am often underwhelmed by what we achieve as a class in terms of inquiring into the content…it almost leads me to regularly think “lucky they viewed the lecture online because that lesson was not very productive”…

    The flipped methodology is sound, but I am yet to see the “magic” occur in the classroom at this point…

    What methodology or processes are you using in place of flipped learning?

  2. Interesting. Yes, I know that feeling. Now, I try my best to have my kids tinker and experiment more with the mathematics. Finding patterns and generalizing is huge. I try to get them to “do” as much as possible before I give them anything. Most times, as long as I pose the right questions, students can reach the heart of the lesson with little help from me, which is beautiful. I follow loads of blogs and use Twitter to get most of my ideas. They are many GREAT teachers out there openly sharing everything they do.

    I appreciate you reading and the comment Ryan!

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