Most teachers know this.
These four pillars are the foundation of the classroom. Two pillars center upon the environment. Without flexibility and an established learning culture, the environment won’t be conducive to learning. The other two pillars, intentional content and the professional educator, are equally foundational.
The professional educator
Professional: characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession. If you are a traditional teacher, it may take some time to conform to the flipped classroom where the focus is student-centred. Students are not empty vessels waiting to be filled by your words of wisdom. They come to the classroom with background knowledge that connects them to new material. The professional educator needs to tap into that knowledge to ignite the student’s curiosity.
The Intentional content is the material that a teacher want students to know before they walk into the classroom. This learning goal steers students toward what they should know and be able to do with the material they will apply to the class. In the flipped classroom, the students’ exposure to the content has to happen before the class meets. This takes the form of a homework assignment such as a video, or a module that has pre-packaged the content for you. The intentional content becomes the knowledge that students bring to the classroom to apply to the learning goal.
Let’s say that you are starting a unit on the human respiratory system.
When you assign the Instructional Content, show the video clip called “Where are my Lungs,” to hook the students with a preview of the material. Assign the rest of the module for homework, including taking the test at the end of the module.
Tell the students to come into class with three questions about the content of the homework.
You can scaffold the questions or leave them wide open depending on the level of the students in the class.
- Based on what I know, I think. . .
- This reminds me of. . .
- I wonder. . .
Begin the class with a warm-up based on the students’ questions. Have students grapple with the questions in pairs or small groups until all of them feel comfortable with the material.
For the rest of the class, students apply the key concepts of the lesson by interacting with peers and instructors during class time. The instructional content gives them the information they need to apply the content in an experiment, lab, writing assignment, or scenario.
Everything after that is extended learning. Extended learning means that the student can apply the newly acquired material to another situation, by solving another problem, writing an essay, taking a test or simply have an educated discussion.
Each lesson in the unit builds upon the next as it does in traditional teaching. The big difference is that the flipped classroom is actively, not passively, understood.