Would a Flipped Classroom Work in Junior High School?

To Flip or not to Flip???

To Flip or not to Flip???

I have heard so much about the Flipped Classroom Model that I decided to look into it for future reference. I will say that I’m not completely sold on it, but I think it’s worth looking into. By basic definition a Flipped Classroom is, “A pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions. The video lecture is often seen as the key ingredient in the flipped approach, such lectures being either created by the instructor and posted online or selected from an online repository. While a prerecorded lecture could certainly be a podcast or other audio format, the ease with which video can be accessed and viewed today has made it so ubiquitous that the flipped model has come to be identified with it.” – EduCause Active learning and student engagement are terms that are thrown around a lot, but they are the main reasons I’ve been looking into this fairly new idea. That being said, upon delving into this type of model, I’m not sure if it can be used with this age group. I’m also not sure if it’s appropriate or productive to use at a high school level, at least during 9th or 10th Grade. I could be wrong, hence, the reason for this post…

There are glaring issues that are keeping me from attempting this on a large scale. The first being, not everybody has internet access at their house, so assigning activities that have video content becomes problematic. You may be thinking, we live in an information age, so everybody should have access to the internet. Yes, in a Utopian society, we all have access to the internet as well as wifi hotspots. However, all people don’t. Furthermore, this puts a lot of responsibility on kids that are in the age range of 11-14. I know I wasn’t ready or responsible enough to basically teach myself the lesson the night before as well as be prepared to be actively involved in class. However, the more I read about the model the more I think about things that I could do with this model working in my classroom.

At a Junior High age range, one is still in a battle with taking ownership of their own education. To automatically assume, kids will jump at the chance to take ownership of teaching themselves lessons via power point presentations and/or screencast is assuming a lot. There is the other side of the coin that will in fact jump at this opportunity to teach themselves because they learn better in smaller/quieter settings. The question still remains, would flipped classrooms work in Junior High School? I think they can, but I’m not sure if they will on a large scale as they do in higher education. I think I will attempt this on a small scale in a trial and error basis because if you think about it, teachers already flip the class on small scales when they ask students to complete assignments and present for credit as well as using those assignments for discussion starters [i.e., current events for homework - present & submit in class]. Still, the previously mentioned doesn’t fully embrace the concept of flipping classrooms. I’m not particularly sold on assigning a lesson via power point presentation because, again, it becomes problematic for those that don’t have internet access and for those that simply don’t do the work…

All of that being said, I think my first attempt at flipping the class will be to post a video to this blog [view & respond], and they can share their understanding of the video as well as any questions they may have by posting it via the comments section. The assignment will come on a weekend to give them proper time to gain access to the internet if they don’t have it at home. The idea of “small – small”, which basically means start with small change before you change the entire format, works for me. I will use this future assignment as a gauge to see if they are ready for it on a larger scale. What I don’t want is for 5 out of 30 people to participate, and then leave the rest of the class guessing at what we are supposed to be discussing. I still am not sure if that fully embraces the idea of flipping the class, but it will it will be a start at trying to actively engage students in a different way…

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11 comments on “Would a Flipped Classroom Work in Junior High School?

  1. I think this is a fantastic idea! I have tried this in my class, and it had mixed results. I teach 8th grade social studies, and half of them did what was asked – the other portion didn’t do the required work. I think flipped classes works best on a college level or even post college level because they’re invested a little bit more than a junior high student. I do applaud you for at least attempting this on a junior high level.

  2. I have commented on this on other sites and my comment is always the same.
    While I am glad that an idea gets circulated and is available to teachers, there are two things wrong with this discussion:

    First, this is nothing new. This is the way my college classes worked — this is the way I ran my classes when I taught college courses. You would assign readings and you would assume the students were ready to discuss. It does not require any technological quantum leap — the technology is not what makes this possible. What makes it possible are students who will prepare for class.

    That points to the second thing that is wrong with the discussion — and please note I am criticizing the discussions I’ve seen, not the method or any educator who tries it out. But what bothers me about the discussions is that this is often seen as a silver bullet — a new technique that will revolutionize education. This is not new andr, as someone above suggests, this only works if you have students who are motivated an come to class prepared. Often that is not the case with HS students

  3. Let me finally add, my ‘the discussion’ I don’t mean the post and comments here, but the overall discussion of flipped classrooms in the media which treat it as this breakthrough that stodgy old teachers had never thought of and are unwilling to adopt because they have worksheets to hand out.

    • Thank you for your comments. You have some very valid and spot on points. I am in agreement that this isn’t that new of an idea and shouldn’t be looked at as a “silver bullet” that will revolutionize education. That being said, I think it’s pretty new for the grade level I teach (7th Grade/Junior High). I could be wrong, but I just haven’t heard about many teachers doing this. As I was mulling over whether or not I should do this at such a young age, I thought of their attention spans not being ready for this or their level of responsibility being ready. I think the technology snag comes when a teacher chooses to implement their direct instruction through screencast/video, and they expect their students to view it and be ready to actively discuss in class. I think I will use this sparingly if at all because at this age, I think direct instruction is very important. Again, I could be wrong…

  4. As I said, my comments were not so much directed to you as to the reports in the media. I have tried similar things at the HS level and, with the exception of some Honors Classes for Seniors, the results are the same: half (or more) of the students have not prepared, I need to go back over the material for the class to work and the students who were prepared feel it is a waste of time. The times I did get this to semi-work was when the ‘material’ was not my own, but something like a song by Tupac of Lil/ Wayne that they had all known anyway. Maybe that is because I have failed to motivate as a teacher, but I really think it is a problem that everyone would face.

  5. Here are some thoughts about your Flipped Classroom blog. Is it age appropriate? The answer is borderline. Vygotsky and Piaget both maintain that there are stages of development that are age dependent. Between the ages of 11 and 17 students are in transition from memory acquisition and dependence on an expert (teacher) and learning to be independent thinkers and develop higher order cognitive skills. They will really struggle with the lecture outside of class thing. In my opinion they really need to run and play and be outside screaming at a tree or a bug in the grass after being cooped up in class all day. In winter their flipped classroom maybe building an igloo, depending on where they live, of course. There are a lot of things that you can do with 10 minutes of lecture and 50 minutes of group work. I’m really fond of a new way to give tests I ran across at Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Scholar/Teacher Forum. The teachers gave problem solving exercise for the class to read. They then had each individual take a short multiple choice test. Then they had small teams of 4 students take the test together. The team was equipped with a scratch card with answers. To reveal the answer one had to scratch the card. More than one area scratched for a question indicated wrong answer and subsequent retry. The individuals could compare their answers to the team. Lots of great discussion building problem solving and decision making skills.

    The second issue has really nothing to do with your students but a huge amount to do with peers and administration. As strange as it sounds I was in a college that barred my teaching using teams because they said it wasn’t a traditional way to teach. There was also a lot of concern from old timers that they would have to do a lot of work. I brought a lot of research to the party that said teams, inclusion, involvement, and engagement were superior to traditional methods but was told that I will give up teamwork in the classroom and lecture.

    Before you get blindsided by ignorance build a coalition of peers and administrators who believe in the concept. Be prepared to prove you are right. Anticipate negatives and have prepared responses before you ever begin. Begin slow and build. Once you have successfully implemented there is no going back. You are building for the future with your team of friends who also have an investment in your shared experience.

  6. I’m just a carpenter, but as you and I discussed on another blog, parental involvement and interest is very important in their child’s education.

    In my opinion, the concept of the “flipped classroom” has been around as long as we have had schools…it’s called homework. Some students will do it and others just won’t, ( sheepishly raises hand.), unless forced by a concerned parent.

    I’m also of the opinion that, other than book reports or term papers which can be stretched out through the quarter or semester, homework assignments should be fairly short. A student will usually have homework assignments from other classes to complete also. Asking a student to sit in classrooms all day, then take up most of their free time doing homework is asking a lot of 11 to 14 year old kids.

    That’s my opinion for what it’s worth.

    • It’s a good opinion, and thank you for sharing. I’m not completely sold on flipping a class at this age other than the example I gave in the post. I think it’s more appropriate for an older age of students.

      I’m very conscious of not trying to overload the kids with tons of homework. I do assign it, and it’s for two reasons. Master/comprehension of content as well as learning time management skills. My homework is on a regular routine in La/Lit. We have 10 vocabulary words every Monday come rain or shine;) About 400 for the whole school year based on words from sat/scripps. In La/writing, I have assignments varying on a 2/3 week interval coinciding with particular unit. That being said, they are assignments based on lectures/activities/view & responds from in class. I also give them ample in class time to collaborate as well as complete the work. For most, they have just begun switching classes and taking on new work loads. It’s hard for some to adjust, but I tell them time management as well as hard work are required to be successful in life and in this class. I’m always sure to tell them that their teacher took the long route to time management and didn’t learn it until college – they always get a kick out of that for some reason;)

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