Using the flipped classroom technique in secondary schools

Date: 07/12/2015     Category: School and Nursery Classrooms     Tags: Flipped Classroom, Outdoor Classroom

The flipped classroom technique is a new buzzword in education, and a mode of learning that could help secondary school students to get more out of their class time. While it’s often associated with university level study rather than secondary school teaching, flipped learning can be implemented at any level. Read on to get the lowdown on this back-to-front learning technique.

What is a flipped classroom?

student at computerFlipped learning, or the flipped classroom, is an educational technique that puts individual home study first. Traditionally, teachers will take a lesson and introduce their subject to the class, before setting homework to help their students follow up on what they have learnt. The flipped classroom model takes this traditional teaching method and flips it on its head, asking students to carry out some preliminary research before coming to the lesson, then using the class time to answer questions and build on the knowledge acquired from their self-directed learning.

What are the advantages?

Many secondary school students respond well to having more control over their study. With flipped learning they can have a greater degree of autonomy over how and when they explore the subject. Studying at their own pace, and then being able to address the topic in more detail with the help of a teacher can be a great way for these students to take charge of their study, think for themselves and produce original work. It can also be good preparation for university level study, where self-directed learning is the norm.

Today’s students are digital natives, and flipped learning may come very naturally to those who have grown up with Google at their fingertips. With access to internet technology now readily available for pupils of all ages, it’s easy for teachers to create compelling video content and prepare other useful resources for their pupils to watch and refer to online, as many times as they like. Students can post their thoughts and comments, promoting a collaborative way of learning, and the teacher can respond to their questions in the same place.

The downsides

Depending on how it is implemented, flipped learning may not be a style that suits every secondary school student. Some pupils may prefer to be guided through the subject with more initial input from their teacher, instead of being left completely to their own devices.

Teachers should take special care to ensure that less self-assured pupils are fully included in the follow-up class, as some students may not feel confident to speak up and ask questions about things that they have read or seen during their self-directed study.

Flip your classroom: how to make it work for you

Despite some controversy, the flipped classroom technique is flexible enough to be employed in a way that works for every class. Here are some pointers to help you get the most out of flipped learning:

  • Be prepared. Make sure you have detailed and accessible resources for your students to use during their home study sessions.
  • Take advantage. These days there are countless amazing free technologies to take advantage of, from Twitter to YouTube.
  • Teach individuals. You know your class better than anyone. Play to their strengths and pay attention to their weaknesses. Give special attention to students who may feel out of their depth with the new way of learning. You never know – it may just give them a new sense of confidence.

And finally, it always pays to read around your subject. Here are some articles and resources on flipped learning that you may find useful:

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