By Robert Lilley, Former Head of Juniors, Grammar School at Leeds.
Associate, Independent Schools Portal.
In a time when some staff are questioning the value of homework and and Hattie et al (1) suggest that it has limited learning gains, how do we ensure productive independent learning for our pupils?
I have recently observed teachers utilising ideas from ‘Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day’ by Jonathan Bergmann & Aaron Sams (2012).
Traditional homework activities have involved pupils consolidating work done in the classroom (which they may not find appealing) or some practical activity which parents have tended to do for the child. The prudent use of technology can allow teachers to set meaningful work without causing themselves lots of marking the following day and make better use of their time in class. Rather than setting consolidation work for home, some colleagues are setting the learning as homework then using the following day’s lessons to help the children use and apply their new knowledge and skills. This is known as ‘flipping’ your class.
Research (2) shows that many pupils really engage with this method of learning and on reflection I realised that it was how I now learn: I surf and view sources, I ask knowledgeable peers and then I discuss with friends or family.
So what are the advantages?
What exactly is flipped learning?
Flipped learning is:
"The 'flipped classroom' starts with one question: what is the best use of my face-to-face class time?" - Jonathan Bergmann
Flipped learning is not:
There are four parts to this process:
There are various tools to help you do this including many you will already have in school such as:
You need to think about how to distribute the materials to children. Many schools now engage with purchased systems including:
The secret is to keep the core homework limited to 10 minutes.
How do you know whether the pupils have done the work?
Either offer an old fashioned spot-quiz, an online quiz via MS-forms or use features in apps like Nearpod which ask them to complete questions as they go, which you can look at next lesson.
Next time the class is together you can use your class time for creating a better understanding of the subject matter (more time to answer specific questions). You could work on speaking, listening and writing skills, work on projects or really focus in on those tricky concepts where everyone struggled.
There are particular benefits for some pupils with learning difficulties as they can take as many opportunities to view the learning materials as is needed and can refer back to them whenever required. Judicious use of film and oral material can also help relieve them of hours of reading.
In summary, the Flipped Classroom offers an interesting and interactive opportunity for a different style of learning and of teaching. It does take some preparation by the teacher but it does offer time savings when compared to traditional marking. It is something to use now and then rather than every day •