These Aren't Just Essential Flipped Classroom Practices, They're Characteristics of Quality Teaching in any Classroom
In 2013, the Flipped Learning Network published an official definition of Flipped Learning. Along with this definition, the FLN defined these 4 Pillars of Flipped Learning, revolving around the acronym, F-L-I-P:
The 4 Pillars of Flipped Learning are …
- Flexible Environment
- Learning Culture
- Intentional Content
- Professional Educator
For each of these pillars, 2 or 3 characteristics or indicators for effective integration of each pillar were provided. These indicators are worth exploring.
Each one of these characteristics of effective teaching offer an opportunity for educators to improve on how they reach and interact with their students. Below I've listed each of these indicators, along with some explanatory notes sculpted from a combination of the language originally contained in this document and my own thoughts.
– FLEXIBLE ENVIRONMENT –
F.1 I establish spaces and time frames that permit students to interact and reflect on their learning as needed.
Educators often change up the layout of their classrooms, or their approach to time frames, to accommodate different lessons or unit. Learning units, lessons, and assignments may involve group work, independent study, research, performance, and/or evaluation. They accept that the in-class time may a bit chaotic (as compared with the quiet typical of a well-behaved class during a lecture).
F.2 I continually observe and monitors students to make adjustments as appropriate.
During class time, educators continually observe their students, provide them with feedback relevant in the moment, and continuously assess their work. Likewise, the instructional process is adapted as needed to address content areas that students may struggle with.
F.3 I provide students with different ways to learn content and demonstrate mastery.
Educators who flip their classes are flexible in their expectations of how students demonstrate learning and get assessed. They create or otherwise leverage appropriate assessment systems that objectively measure understanding in a way that is meaningful for students and the teacher, and are not necessarily based on a high dependency on quizzes and tests.
– LEARNING CULTURE –
L.1 I give students opportunities to engage in meaningful activities without the teacher being central.
In the Flipped Learning model, there is a deliberate shift from the “sage on the stage”, teacher-centered classroom to a more student-centered approach. Class time is often used for exploring topics in greater depth and creating richer, deeper learning opportunities. Students move from being the product of teaching to being at the center of learning, where they are actively involved in knowledge formation through opportunities to participate in and evaluate their learning in personally meaningful way.
L.2 I scaffold these activities and make them accessible to all students through differentiation and feedback.
Students can take more control of their learning by reviewing content outside the group learning space, and teachers can then maximize the use of face-to-face classroom interactions to strive to assess and and ensure each student's understanding of the material. Flipped educators help students explore topics in greater depth using student-centered pedagogies aimed at their readiness level or zone of proximal development, where they are challenged (but not so much so that they are demoralized).
– INTENTIONAL CONTENT –
I.1 I prioritize concepts used in direct instruction for learners to access on their own.
Flipped educators evaluate which content they need to teach directly, since lectures are an effective tool for teaching particular skills and concepts, and which materials students should explore first on their own, outside of the group learning space.
I.2 I create and/or curate relevant content (typically videos) for my students.
Teachers record and narrate screencasts, create videos of themselves teaching, or curate video lessons from internet sites (think TED-Ed, the Khan Academy, and so on). Many educators start flipping their classroom by using these readily available materials, while others gradually become adept at creating video content of their own, that can be re-used in future course offerings until they require updating.
I.3 I differentiate to make content accessible and relevant to all students
Educators use “intentional content” to maximize classroom time, and adopt various methods of instruction such as active learning strategies, peer instruction, problem-based learning, or mastery or Socratic methods, depending on grade level and subject matter, and student abilities. When possible, multiple resources for exploring new topics are provided.
– PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR –
P.1 I make myself available to all students for individual, small group, and class feedback in real time as needed
In the Flipped Learning model, skilled, professional educators are more important than ever, and often more demanding, than in the traditional model. Teachers must determine when and how to shift direct instruction from the group to the individual learning space, and how to maximize the valuable and limited face-to-face time they have with their students.
P.2 I conduct ongoing formative assessments during class time through observation and by recording data to inform future instruction.
Gojak (2012) noted that the right question for educators to ask themselves is not whether to adopt the Flipped Learning model, but instead, how they can utilize the affordances of the model to help students gain conceptual understanding, and well as procedural fluency when needed. During class, teachers assess student learning frequently through various means, and use this feedback to enhance instruction and bolster learning.
P.3 I collaborate and reflect with other educators and take responsibility for transforming my practice.
Professional Educators are reflective in their practice, connect with each other to improve their trade, accept constructive criticism, and tolerate “controlled classroom chaos”. Flipped educators should model and demonstrate lifelong learning in their own practice, regularly looking for opportunities to improve their skill set.
So there you have it … a powerful set of guidelines and objectives to guide educators everywhere in doing their best work, and doing right by their students. No one said it would be easy, and it isn't. But there are a lot of vitally important ideas here, worth exploring and working to make the most of.