April 4, 2020

Flipped Learning

Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education. I recommend that you share this brief commentary with your school community so that all stakeholders can benefit from the wide array of resources identified here.


3 Big Ideas

My son playing with his quartet, seeing his classmates in math class,
and sharing a drawing with his English class.

Well, here we are embracing social distancing and approving increased screen time. Who would have thought?!  I don’t know about you, but I’m having a learning shift too. We used to have limits on screen time and carefully monitored websites and platforms. Now, we’re harnessing the power of technology and all that it can offer for connecting, communicating, teaching, and learning, still monitoring though.  Zoom is now a verb in our house meaning did you have class or connect with friends? “Mom, I am going to Zoom with my English class or Hangout (Google Hangout being used for office hours) with Mr. MacIntyre for a minute” are commonly heard these days in our house. My go-to recent reads, all  from Edutopia, are:


    1. A growing number of schools were embracing the notion of flipped learning, even before being forced to by Covid-19. Just because it’s online, doesn’t make it flipped, however. Flipping is an instructional approach that reverses the traditional model of the teacher giving a lecture in front of the class, then sending students home to work through assignments that (maybe) enhance their understanding of the concepts. In flipped learning, students watch lecture videos or read relevant course content on their own before class, and class time is devoted to expanding on the material through group discussions and collaborative learning projects (i.e., doing what was traditionally meant as homework). The instructor is there to guide students when questions or problems arise. The closures of schools have pushed schools and teachers to appreciate the beauty and power of digital tools for more than Class Dojo, tweets, and timers. We have the capacity to create rigorous learning opportunities that can bring students and teachers together. Let’s get to it! Provided that all students have access to the appropriate technology and are motivated to prepare for each class session, flipped learning can bring a wide range of benefits. For example, it allows students to control their own learning by watching lecture videos at their own pace; they can pause, jot down questions, or re-watch parts they find confusing. The model also encourages students to learn from each other and explore subjects more deeply. However, we need to plan deliberately for these activities.


    2. Working remotely is a common scenario for us all now and can be a challenge for some. In “23 Essential Tips for Working Remotely Lindsey Pollak and Eileen Coombes of Inc. offer ideas on morale, communication, and self-care while working remotely. A few I found helpful are:
      • Resolve issues quickly with a phone call. Email, text, IM, Slack, and other written methods of communication are prone to misunderstandings. When you sense this is happening, be quick to pick up the phone to resolve issues.
      • Working from home, since you won’t be bumping into your colleagues in the halls or cafeteria or elevator or parking lot, you won’t have the same opportunity for chitchat and human connection, but it is so important to retain. Make time every day to text with colleagues, check in personally, share stories, ask how people are doing.
      • Take scheduled breaks. Try setting an alarm to get up and stretch every hour or so. (Standing desks, which at home may mean perching your laptop on top of a bookshelf, also pay large dividends for overall health.) Walk around your home while chatting on the phone with a friend. Move to a separate area — away from your email — to eat lunch for 30 minutes
    3. Flipped learning is becoming widespread in all levels of education, but it is especially prevalent at the college level. A 2017 survey found that 61 percent of college faculty were using the flipped model in some or all of their classes. That marked a six-percent increase over 2016. Another 24 percent of college instructors were either exploring the idea of flipped classes or actively planning to implement it. Read more about in “Survey: Blended Learning on the Rise” in Campus Technology.

      I am a huge advocate for “Active Learning Strategies” from UC Berkley’s  Center for Teaching and Learning that help learners process material as they are learning it. I use some of those mentioned as well as those in all of the publications by Paula Rutherford. John Medina in Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School says, “To keep students engaged, you must win the battle for their attention every 10 minutes. AKA the 10-minute rule.” I believe in this 10 minute rule, based on the research of Mary Budd-Rowe, and wonder how our online learning will account for this important physiological need. I’m thinking about this myself as Virginia Tech turns to online learning for the foreseeable future. I am also thinking about live surveys, Think-Pair-Share, jigsaws, journals, and more to ensure my learners are understanding the material. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.



“Lots of force feeding with very little digestion does nothing for the nourishment of the listeners, whose learning is often sacrificed in the name of expediency.”

– John Medina, author


“The flipped classroom helps teachers break the habit of lecture. Flipping provides a mechanism to transition toward deeper learning, opening up avenues for exploration and experimentation by freeing up class time.”

– Jon Bergmann, author of Flip Your Classroom 

1 Question

How do active learning strategies support your flipped classrooms and schools?


About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.



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