This year I’m trialling flipped learning for my Year 7 class. I have one Year 7 class who I teach for 5 subjects – English, Maths, Science, Geography and History. For maths, I’ve decided to try flipped learning in order to be more efficient at differentiated learning.

So what made me feel the need to try flipped learning? In the first couple of weeks when I had maths lessons with my class, I’d find myself spending 20-30 minutes explaining the concept and doing worked examples as whole class instruction. I found that the whole class instruction treated every student as the same; that every student knew nothing about the concepts I was explaining. However the reality was that some students already knew how to do the maths I was explaining. Some students didn’t but picked it up quickly. Some students needed the explanations to be repeated. Other students needed individual instruction. I asked myself, ‘How can I better differentiate my maths lessons so that students are able to move at their own pace and allow me to provide individualised instruction more easily?’ The answer was flipped learning with OfficeMix.

Here’s an example of one of my OfficeMix maths videos:

https://mix.office.com/embed/16o5y0wf7l85l

I’m not doing the traditional flipped learning where students watch explanation videos at home and then do the exercises in class. I’ve modified it so that students watch the explanation videos in class. I find this version of modified flipped learning work for my students.

So here’s the ups and downs I have found so far with flipped learning:

Ups

- OfficeMix is a really easy tool for making instruction/explanation videos. Because it is part of PowerPoint, it is extremely accessible to teachers (all teachers are familiar with PowerPoint). OfficeMix also have analytics where you can see how many times students have viewed a video and how long they spent watching certain sections. I have not used this feature yet.
- Flipped learning allows my students to move at their own pace. Those who pick up concepts very quickly can move on quickly. Those that need more time can rewind and watch certain parts again. This then enables me to go around to each student and help them as individuals.
- The videos allow students (and their families) to review the explanations at a later date, which is great for revision.

Downs (I prefer to label them as “areas to work on”)

- Flipped learning is an acquired skill and needs to be taught. Flipped learning requires students to be independent learners, to know themselves whether they understand a concept or require further help. As a teacher, I need to teach this to my students.
- Making the videos do take time. I have 4 hours of maths a week and I find that 1 to 2 videos per week is the most effective. We don’t have new videos in every lesson.
- The need to copy information – I found that with the videos, some students did not take the time to process the information. They just watched it. In my latest videos, I have included instructions for students to copy the worked examples in the video as I believe the act of writing out the working out process will allow students to take the time to process the information.

So far, I think this version of flipped learning is working for my students. I am planning to evaluate this strategy with student surveys and focus groups in a few week’s time.

Hi Alice,

I’m a beginning science teacher. I recently tried to ‘flip’ a year 10 science class while on teaching prac, and it ‘flopped’ rather badly. How do you react to students who arrive in class without having covered the required material at home? I found myself falling into a pattern of giving a mini-theory lesson during class for the benefit of these unprepared students, and the other students quickly learnt that they didn’t need to cover the material at home either if I was just going to teach it in class anyway. After a couple of weeks, no one was looking at the online work at all.

If you’ve cracked this one, I’d love to hear how you did it – at the moment I don’t think I’d be prepared to ‘flip’ again in a hurry.

Hi Kath. Thanks for your comment. I don’t actually use the traditional flip model. I get the students to watch the video in class. Why don’t you try that? Instead of students watching the video at home, have them watch it in class. That way, students can still move at their own pace. Do what works for your students. Hope you are enjoying the start of your teaching career.

I have been flipping my chemistry classes for the last couple of years. The students have found it very beneficial and my HSC marks have improved.

Don’t think I will keep doing it with my Year 11 chemistry next year as it does not lend it to these students as it does not suit them. They do not have the discipline and work ethic of the other groups.

Thanks for your comment. Each class of students will have different needs. Do what works for your students. There’s no one size fits all.