In an earlier post I questioned the trendy use of foldables. Today I want to question the flipped classroom model which is all the rage right now. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with this model, here’s a handy infographic you should check out.

So the basic premise of the flipped classroom is that the lecture portion of instruction is recorded in some way and students watch this lecture on computers at home for homework. Then, in class, the students work on more engaging activities (practice) because they’ve already “learned” the content of the lesson at home. The teacher, free from having to lecture, is able to walk around and help students with problems as they arise. Educators like to talk about transitioning their role from the “sage on the stage” to the “guide on the side” and this model definitely allows for that transition in roles…in the classroom only.

Here is my primary concern:

**What is with the insistence on the lecture (direct instruction) model?**

Teachers appear to be loving the ability to offer more engaging, open-ended activities in class now that students are watching lectures at home.

**What was stopping these teachers from offering these kinds of activities before?**

**Why do teachers think students have to be told what to do before they actually do any math?**

The use of instructional videos as “pre-learning” shows that the transmission model of education is in no danger of going away. In all these years, hasn’t the field of education learned enough about how students learn best to know that talking at them is not ideal? Don’t get me wrong, having access to these kinds of videos as a *resource* is great. If I’m working out a problem, and I realize I need to brush up on the Pythagorean theorem, then watching a 5-7 minute video might be super helpful. Why do we assume students need to be told everything they need to know about a concept or a strategy before trying out a problem or two for themselves?

**Flipping the Flipped Classroom**

If anything, I would rather suggest flipping the classroom in the other direction. First, start with an engaging problem. Look at Dan Meyer’s three act problems for one approach. Don’t spend a lot of time talking at your students from the get go. Have a brief *discussion* about the situation and then let them go. If it’s challenging, let them work in pairs or small groups to brainstorm together. If they finish quickly, give them some other problems related to the big idea of the lesson. Finally, pull the class together and debrief. Talk. Have discussion, not lecture. At this point, if you want to *tell* the students something, they are much more receptive to hearing it and asking questions about it. I have witnessed this first hand. Students are more talkative *after* engaging with content, not before. Students love to think and talk, but they are more readily engaged if they have some connection with what you’re talking about. And if you still want to make an instructional video, great! The students have struggled with the content, they’ve talked about it with each other, and they’ve talked about it with you. Watching a video might help cement ideas that they weren’t quite sure about yet.

With this model you’re showing students that they can learn content without having to be *told *exactly what steps to take. Instead the role of a student is being problem solvers engaged in their own learning and processes, rather than passive recipients of information that may or may not “stick” or that they may not understand how to apply.

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keyloggerable“Why do teachers think students have to be told what to do before they actually do any math?”

– This is only half true. Khan has actually directly said that simulations should often be done before presenting Direct Instruction. And Brit Cruise taught a problem-based lesson without any prior instruction. He blogged about it here – http://britcruise.com/2012/07/18/magic-in-the-classroom-a-show-a-hunt-a-payoff/

bstockusPost authorThanks for commenting. I’m not so much worried about what Khan thinks about flipped classrooms as I am about the teachers I’ve met who are flipping their classrooms or being persuaded to flip their classrooms by other teachers. Many are convinced to make a switch in their practice based on a blog post they read or a speaker they heard at a conference.

I’m happy that Khan is advocating for simulations. Unfortunately he doesn’t speak for all of the teachers who currently flip their classrooms. The term flipped class is quickly taking on a life of its own, and if there was a pure definition of how to do it at one time, it is quickly morphing to fit the needs and desires of those wielding its power. Very quickly I fear it’s going to become a loaded (and potentially divisive) term.

EmmaI really enjoyed reading this post. It has given me much to think about and consider in my journey towards Maths teaching.