Flipping the Elementary Classroom

Post Update on February 25 2016: This post was written several years ago and continues to get many hits.  I encourage you to either pick up a copy of my entire book on Flipping the Elementary Classroom or read a post entitled 5 Reasons Why Elementary Teachers Should Flip Math First.

A question I have been frequently asked is how do you flip an elementary classroom?  Does the flipped methodology work for the younger grades?  The answer is yes–sorta.  

My current role is that of a K-8 technology facilitator.  I work directly with an amazing staff who has taught me much about students in the younger grades.  

Here is my advice for elementary teachers

Don’t flip a class:  Flip a lesson.  

  • Think of the flipped class as another technique in your arsenal.  
  • Start with a lesson that students struggle with and make a short video.  An easy way to determine what to make a video of is to ask yourself:  What do I constantly have to repeat or what do kids really need extra help on?
  • Keep the video to no more than 10 min and shorter if you have younger kids.  I think the rule of thumb might be 1-2 min per grade level.  
  • Make sure you figure out how the students are going to access the video.  Are you going to post it to your website, to YouTube (this might be tricky with younger kids since some parents might not want their kids on YouTube).  Also make sure that all kids have a way to access the videos.  If you teach in a school with access issues, then make sure you solve this problem before class.  
  • You might also not assign the video as homework, but make it a center in your classroom for students who struggle and/or need extra help.
  • Figure out how you will check to see if they have watched the video.  You could have them take notes on paper or you might have them give feedback via a google form.  There are lots of ways to check student work.  

And one thing more:  Ask yourself–Where should the video go in the instructional cycle?  This came from one of my great teachers, Caryn Friedman, who is an expert in reading literacy.  When we chatted about the flipped class she feels that the place for the video is not at the beginning of learning cycle but rather in the middle.  She tells me that if a student watches a video and learns something incorrectly, then she will have to help the student un-learn the content before they re-learn it correctly.  She sees the flipped videos as being better suited (for her purposes) as remediation and practice.  So make sure you think through where the video (or if a video) is best suited for a particular lesson.