Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

The Flipped Class: Myths vs. Reality

CJ Westerberg, July 9, 2013 8:40 PM


Editor's Note:  On the heels of our viral posts in over 100 countries about the flipped classroom earlier this year (links below), we asked Jon Bergmann if he could share some of the feedback he was receiving in light of the notable interest about this topic.  The timing couldn't have been more perfect since he was about to leave for a conference about you-guessed-it, the flipped class.  Here is Part 1 of our three part series The Daily Riff.  See Part 2 and 3 links below.
                                                                        - C.J. Westerberg


The Flipped Class:
What it is and What it is Not

by Jon Bergmann, Jerry Overmyer and Brett Wilie

There has been a lot of interest in the flipped classroom.  This past week the Flipped Class Conference occurred at Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park Colorado and during the pre-conference a team of flipped teachers got together to write a three-part article about the nature of the Flipped Class.  This first article is an attempt to define what the Flipped Class is and what it is NOT.

The traditional definition of a flipped class is:

  • Where videos take the place of direct instruction
  • This then allows students to get individual time in class to work with their teacher on key learning activities.
  • It is called the flipped class because what used to be classwork (the "lecture" is done at home via teacher-created videos and what used to be homework (assigned problems) is now done in class.

But from our perspective, as successful flipped teachers, we believe it is so much more.  We also realize there is a lot of mis-information about the Flipped Classroom and quite a bit of controversy about whether or not this is a viable instructional methodology.  Thus the purpose of this article is to list out what we believe it is and what we believe it is not.

The Flipped Classroom is NOT:

  • A synonym for online videos. When most people hear about the flipped class all they think about are the videos.  It is the the interaction and the meaningful learning activities that occur during the face-to-face time that is most important.
  • About replacing teachers with videos.
  • An online course.
  • Students working without structure.
  • Students spending the entire class staring at a computer screen.
  • Students working in isolation. 

The Flipped Classroom IS:

  • A means to INCREASE interaction and personalized contact time between students and teachers.
  • An environment where students take responsibility for their own learning
  • A classroom where the teacher is not the "sage on the stage", but the "guide on the side".
  • A blending of direct instruction with constructivist learning.
  • A classroom where students who are absent due to illness or extra-curricular activities such as athletics or field-trips, don't get left behind.
  • A class where content is permanently archived  for review or remediation.
  • A class where all students are engaged in their learning.
  • A place where all students can get a personalized education.

In the upcoming second of three articles featured at The Daily Riff tomorrow, we will discuss more in depth how to go about flipping the class and the stages involved in doing so successfully.

Originally published The Daily Riff July 2011

Jon Bergmann is one of the first teachers to flip his classroom and has recently co-authored a book on the the Flipped Class which is to be published by ISTE press.  He is the Lead Technology Facilitator at the Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth, Illinois.

Jerry Overmyer has teaching experience in secondary and college mathematics. He is the coordinator for MAST WebConnect, and provides expertise on quality resources for teachers and students in mathematics and science. He is the creator of the Flipped Class Network.

Brett Wilie is a secondary science teacher from the Dallas, Texas area. Brett has been an educator for 13 years and has been a Science Department Chair for the past 5 years. He has recently been nominated to the "20 Educators to Watch Project" and was recently a presenter at the Flipped Class Conference.

Video Montage from Conference Below

Originally Pub. The Daily Riff June 21, 2011

Related Posts The Daily Riff:

Part 2:  Are You Ready to Flip?  by Dan Spencer, Deb Wolf and Aaron Sams

Part 3:  The Flipped Class Revealed:  What Does a Good One Look Like 
             by Jon Bergmann, Jerry Overmyer and Brett Wilie

How the Flipped Classroom is Radically Transforming Learning by Jon Bergmann

Teachers Doing the Flip to Help Students Become Learners

Private School Math Teacher Flips Learning by Stacey Roshan

  • JJwatts

    I am not impress I had to do my homework

  • Zakiya Jenkins

    Sometimes I think we can over do it. I try and make everything as simple as I possibly can. I normally put three activities out there for my students. Three questions they must be able to answer watching the video..or playing the game.....and an online lecture in cartoon form. I teach high school and it works better if what they learn at home takes no more than 15 minutes combined. This is coming from them of course. They use cornell note-taking. I started blended learning about six years ago with my Pre-AP 8th Graders. Now I do it with High School Students. I do have to look out for those who do not have Internet Access at home which tends to be about 10 out of 150. So I make provisions. Overall it has been successful.

  • SN

    Why not post the questions as it arises and the teacher gets to view these questions to answer in person online or offline?

  • Stephen Sunguro

    Great article! I like flipped classroom because moving lectures outside of the classroom allows trainers to spend more time with each student and engage with learner queries. Students have the opportunity to ask questions and work through problems with the guidance of their trainers/teachers and the support of their peers - creating a collaborative learning environment.

  • cjwesterberg

    Angela, your last point about moving from a convo to a mono is ironic since that is one of the whys for the flipped class. Guess anything poorly executed is a dud no matter what you name it! thks for sharing your experience -

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The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they - at some distant point in the future - will take over the reigns. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely... because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties. For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.
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