One Teacher’s Flip From Flipped Classrooms

By Liana Loewus — October 09, 2012 1 min read
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While flipped classrooms are still all the rage in some education circles, teacher and blogger Shelley Wright explains why her “brief love affair with the flip has ended.”

Wright initially turned to the flipped model as a way to help her and her students get through “the large and sometimes burdensome amount of content” required by her biology and chemistry curricula. She hoped having students watch lectures at home and do hands-on activities during class would prove a “transformative learning experience.”

And it did—just not exactly in the way she’d envisioned.

Rather than a new way of teaching in and of itself, the flipped classroom served as a springboard to project-based learning. Wright and her students phased out the at-home lectures altogether, and students took control of their own learning in class. Wright explains:

As this new way of learning played out over time, my students found they didn't need me to locate or create videos for them. Instead, they learned how to learn, and they were able to find their own resources. ... Some shot ahead because they found the initial concepts quite easy. Others needed to hunker down to really grasp them. My students differentiated their own instruction. They worked at their own pace, since they chose their own resources. They could do extra work at home if they felt it necessary.

This student-centered class time enabled her to talk to every student during each class period, and assess who needed help and where they were struggling.

Wright says she would never go back to either the traditional or flipped model, both of which rely on lectures and are teacher-centered. “When students own their learning, then deep, authentic, transformative things happen in a classroom. It has nothing to do with videos, or homework, or the latest fad in education. It has everything to do with who owns the learning.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.