8 Tips to Spice Up a Flipped Classroom

Teacher Engagement

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I’m a little ADD or maybe even a lot.  The nicer way to say it is that I am an extremely random abstract thinker and I love change.  Some days it drives me crazy, but I believe that it has come in handy as a teacher.

You must be able to multi-task all day long as a teacher.  In a flipped classroom, this ability becomes even more important.  As the “guide on the side,” you find yourself in many new roles.  You’re tutoring one minute, replenishing supplies the next, followed by clearing a quiz from a website, and then writing a hall pass.  You quickly check that email, answer a couple of questions, celebrate a good score, and tell a little joke.  This type of activity goes on all day long.  It makes the day fly by.  That’s because your brain stays engaged.

8 tipsto spice up the flipped classroomStudent Engagement

Keeping students engaged is just as important.  Students are more engaged in a flipped classroom because of the variety.  Students will tell you that they get tired of doing the same thing day after day.  They especially dislike listening to teachers stand at the board and talk.  Therefore, it is important to change things up.  Here are a few ways to do that.

  1.  Self Teaching Days – not all video watching needs to be done out of class.  Assign a topic and set them loose in a few of your approved websites.  You’ll be amazed at what they find.  Be sure to save some time for discussion.
  2.  Game Days – Review vocabulary or previous concepts.  Choose a few games you enjoy and bring them out every couple of weeks.  Don’t use the same one all year though.
  3.  Work Days – Use online quizzes that give immediate feedback.  That way they know if they are getting it or not.  Make sure you circulate a lot on those days to keep an eye on their computers and answer questions.
  4.  Talk Days – Give them some days to share things they are learning, ask questions, and maybe even a bit of old fashioned direct instruction.   Listening to one another and analyzing each other’s work can be one of the most powerful tools for all.
  5.  Special Days – Find fun ways to kick off a unit or celebrate some successes they’ve had along the way.
  6.  Project Days – Give them a little time to work on some project based learning.  This is where you really see if they are learning and growing.
  7. Quiet Days – Sometimes students need to just work on their own with very limited  interactions.  Activities that take a lot of thinking are good days to set the noise level to zero.
  8.  Formal Assessment Days – Keep these assessments short, but give them often.  Give the students a chance to learn from their mistakes and re-take another version later on.  Focusing on just one standard at a time helps the students know how to study and makes the process less stressful than a huge end of the unit assessment.

Student Groupings

Finally, keep your groupings in mind.  Sometimes let them choose who they sit by and work with and sometimes choose for them.  Base your groupings on different criteria.  Take them out of their comfort zone some, but also let them have some responsibility in choosing for themselves and keeping the privilege.  This simple tool provides more buy in, better engagement, and easier classroom management.