Flip Flop Your Classroom!

An Alternative to the Flipped Classroom Model geared toward elementary and non-1:1 Environments



As a self-proclaimed techie art teacher, my experience in a 1:1 middle school art room was the stuff of dreams. Students could watch demos on their iPads, collaborate in group critiques and discussions via tools like "Today's Meet", organize portfolios of art in Book Creator, design their own projects in Sketchbook X, and so much more. Productivity was there no matter what, and lessons were even continued on sub days through the use of direct communication in iTunes U (yes, I sent my sub plans directly to my students, 'cuz....well... why not?).  

My classroom was innovative, exciting, and a place where technology didn't replace traditional art, but infused and energized it. 

Then I got the bittersweet news.
The positive? I wouldn't be traveling between three schools and two buildings anymore. 
The bad news? No more 1:1 environment :( 

While I had always used technology at my elementary school, it was used in incredibly different ways. Sure, students still created digital art and used organizational tools like "Showbie", but after beginning the work to flip my middle school room I was sad to let that go. 

In 2016, by chance, I ended up discovering the joys of what I now call "The Flip Flop Method"

The Method

If you're familiar with the flipped classroom model, you know that it typically means that students watch videos of lectures and demonstrations at home, and get help on their work while at school. 

The Flip Flop Method is similar in that video instruction is used to express content. Now, I know what you're thinking....what is the point of video lessons when your students aren't 1:1? If they're sitting in your room why not teach them directly? 

So here's the thing.... Using video completely transforms your classroom.
How? Check it out.

1. Creating the videos actually creates less work for you.

We all know that prepping for class can be a challenge. Then there are always the millions of little pieces that make it a struggle... the kid who was absent during the lesson, the tech glitch with the network, the memo you missed about an ill-timed fire drill.... etc. Creating videos of your lessons and demonstrations take mere minutes (seriously...I promise it's not bad at all!) and once it's done, it's yours to use forever. FOREVER. So tomorrow when the absent student returns, set them up with an iPad so they can catch up while you work on helping other students. When that fire drill happens, make a mental note of where your video was at, and come back to the same spot. Tech glitches? No internet or connection worries when you have it all pre-recorded. You know it worked, so all you have to do is plug in the computer and hit play. Done and done. 

2. They can still interact, offer, and collaborate

I know you're picturing kids spacing out while watching a video of you teaching. Trust me, I worried about that too, but Flip Flopping your room doesn't mean your kids have to mindlessly watch the video. In fact, it can really be the opposite. You can literally build in interactions (through adding questions/turn and talks/etc.) to your video. Better yet? That amazing little pause button. :) When you feel the teacher need to emphasize something or ask a question, pause, allow for participation, and get right back to the lesson. 

3. Classroom management, CHECK! 

What do you do when those videos are playing? Take care of the kiddo poking their neighbor, whispering so loud you can hear it across the room, or a friend who simply got distracted.

4. They don't gather; they stay in their seats. Genius. 

It is easy to forget how distracting demos can be for kids. You think "this will be great" and quickly realize that gathering the kids in a small space creates a bit of a nightmare of distractions. They struggle to stay in their own space, they want to be the closest person to the action, and they like to socialize. By using video, they stay in their own space. You eliminate transitioning to/from demo, and everyone's happy (and you're wondering why you didn't try this sooner!). :)  

5. Teacher collaboration=LOVE :) 

My school is all about collaboration and especially arts integration which makes flip flopping even sweeter. I can make a video showing students the basics of watercolor, how to use an app, what makes a great landscape etc., and when other teachers want to use one of these methods, I can simply share the video. We all know that time is valuable so this easy solution creates the best of both worlds. You get to help your colleagues without losing out on your own work time. 

6. Everyone gets a first-hand look at what's going on

By using a doc cam or iPad stand to record your lessons, every student can see the directions from a first-hand perspective. They see exactly what they need, without you having to make sure everyone saw and understood during a live demo, or draw upside down so the kids on the other side of the table can see what your doing (yes, I've been there too.) I found this benefit especially helpful when I needed to give directional instructions (i.e. turn your plate to the right - see the weaving video above) in a weaving project. Instead of walking around the room and standing next to the student while trying to show them, I could play it on the big screen and it was as if I had stood next to every student and walked through the steps with them. Also, by repeating the steps of this (weaving) project, if the students got stuck, they could simply watch the video, figure out what they missed, and get right back on track. 

7. Your lesson continues when you're not there

As a specialist on a rotating 6 day cycle, sub days can create quite the organizational nightmare, especially when they fall on the first day of a project. By using video, though, my subs are able to step in right where I left off, and I am able to seemingly teach the lesson while I am away. The kids get nearly identical instruction whether I am in the room or not, and are able to stay on track with other grade-level classes. 

8. They can try it again later, without any class-time lost

In art, I frequently have students come in wanting to review previous lessons because of something they're working on at home or in another class. By posting my instructional videos online, I can simply provide a link to students (and parents) so that they can easily follow the steps again at a later date. This also helps them practice, especially when drawing difficult subjects like portraits or animals. 

9. Do they have wi-fi at home? Not your problem.

One of the major concerns with flipping classrooms is that teachers either have to a) find a way for students to store lots of video files locally on their ipads or b) ensure that students have access to wifi outside of school hours. Both of these can be challenging. Video files are large, clunky to transfer/download, and take up valuable space on devices. Wifi access can be a daunting challenge (especially in low-income neighborhoods like the one I teach in, where,  as one student informed me, the local bar is the best place to get a wifi signal). Flip flopping the room means that as long as you have access to your videos (wifi or not), your students can learn the content. 

10. Not 1:1? No worries. 

Flip Flopping the classroom requires very little when it comes to technology. I simply use an iPad set up on this nifty stand (https://www.amazon.com/Gooseneck-Floor-Stand-iPad-Tablets/dp/B01BH9ETJU) to record my videos, and a laptop and/or iPad to edit the videos. Thats it. One iPad, one laptop. This leaves the other 6 iPads in my room free for student use to create digital art, collaborate, watch the videos at a later point in class, etc.