Challenges of the Big Flip

In many ways, my classroom is already flipped.  In my English class, I probably give a traditional lecture of forty minutes or more once every two weeks.  In my classroom we largely spend time working either as individuals or groups practicing, collaborating, and exploring aspects of the content.  This exploration time in class allows me to monitor the students as they progress through the inquiry cycle, and also allows me to give feedback.  Most of all, it encapsulates a central component of my classroom, that students are the center of the classroom, not me.  In my opinion it is much easier to disengage and zone out when the teacher is speaking for the class period, as opposed to when the activity demands student engagement and participation.  This is the type of hands on learning that a flipped classroom demands.

Photo Credit: COSCUP via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: COSCUP via Compfight cc

There are two main hindrances to the flipped classroom however, both the time aspect and the engagement aspect.  These two concerns warrant a further investigation through the lens of my classroom, a DP 1 and 2 HL English Language and Literature class.

Time – I think the main problem to the flipped classroom is the time aspect.

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

This can be looked at in two different ways, the time that I have to prepare my students for future assessments, and the time my students have if they are full diploma students.  On my end, as the teacher, the flipped classroom is hard due to the amount of content that I need to get through in the short amount of time to get through it.  I must admit, even though I have it easier than some other subjects in regards to content, it is hard for me to envision an entirely flipped classroom due to the rapid pace of the course.  In regards to the students, if every aspect of content is delivered at home on their own time, and each “lecture” was forty minutes long, students would have to sit through four hours of just lecture, not counting pausing for any notes or re-listening to parts they didn’t understand.  This would most likely take the amount of work each night to around six hours, which would not take into consideration long term projects or assignments in each course including IA’s that can not be done in class time alone.  This would lead to students not having enough time for everything, creating priorities, and…

Photo Credit: Aaron Jacobs via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Aaron Jacobs via Compfight cc

Engagement – The question I constantly ask myself about engagement is how can I be sure that students will actually watch all of the flipped content I am producing?  This is the same question that all teachers have about any work given to complete out of class, but the results would be detrimental if my Lang and Lit or TOK students show up to the world exam having only classroom activities to speak of.  On the article “Should You Flip Your Classroom”, they offer some poignant suggestions to curb this issue such as reflection or other synthesis type activities.  With these activities however what is the incentive to complete if your school doesn’t allow you to mark homework for completion?  I would imagine it would take students a month to realize this has no weighting on their mark and cease to complete them.

In my classroom, I really enjoy the benefit of the flipped classroom, but I do not think it would be possible to entirely flip your classroom at the DP level.  Eventually, there is always a need for direct instruction, and this breaks the mold of the totally flipped classroom.  Technology gives us this opportunity to flip our classroom, and we as teachers should assess these positives and negatives to provide our students the best experience possible.