What is flipping the classroom?

When a student spends time with a teacher, not a minute should be wasted. A top shelf education should focus on inspiring the student’s imagination and learning important skills. That’s what ‘flipping the classroom’ is all about.

But what, exactly, do those three words mean? No doubt, you’ve heard them bandied about the place for quite a few years now. Flipping the classroom has become a popular concept.

To bring it back to basics, the idea is that when students first encounter new material, this should happen outside the classroom. Their classroom time should then be spent on doing the harder bit – actually absorbing the material into the student’s stock of knowledge and learning the skills associated with it.

This approach to flexible learning has a few major advantages. For a start, it makes sure that when children are exposed to new subject matter, they discover it in the most interesting and inspiring ways possible. It gives them the chance to get lost in stories and to imagine possibilities, instead of immediately thinking about comprehension questions, memorising and textbooks. Imagine trying to read your favourite novel, with a teacher interrupting you every five pages, asking you to answer questions! The spell would soon be broken.

There are loads of options for presenting new material. These include videos, books, interactive software, fun games, recreational activities… the list goes on and on. At Skwirk, we love seeing the positive results that come about when teachers flip the classroom, which is why we stock thousands and thousands of elearning resources, presenting subjects in innovative and exciting ways.

Secondly, once students have developed a personal interest in new material, they are far more likely to be engaged when it comes to classroom time. They’ll be heading to lessons brimming over with questions, ideas and possibilities. And, as we all know, we’re far more likely to remember a lesson if we’ve really enjoyed taking part in it.

Thirdly, when teachers flip the classroom, they have more time for what really matters. After all, a teacher’s job isn’t to press a button on a DVD player or read aloud. A teacher is there to impart higher level skills to their students and provide them with challenges. If students spend their own time familiarising themselves with new material, they can use their lessons to their full advantage – asking questions, synthesising ideas, learning to write essays and compositions, and developing an understanding of how the new material they’ve learnt fits into their wider perspective on the world.

One useful way of thinking about it is through the application of Bloom’s taxonomy. Bloom’s taxonomy can be displayed in the shape of a pyramid, where skills are placed in order of difficulty. At the bottom is memorising, then understanding, then applying, then analysing, then evaluating, then, finally, creating. All of these are necessary – after all, it’s pretty hard to create anything if you can’t remember anything. But it’s the higher ones that are harder to learn and it’s in mastering them that a student really needs a teacher. When a teacher introduces flexible learning and flips, they make them a priority.

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