What about playing while we flip reverse instruction?

After reading articles about flipped classrooms, reverse instruction, gamification and play, I feel that these are all band-aids at best. My gut is telling me that the real issue is still being avoided. I think the real issue deals with critically looking at the standards and content we are being asked to teach the students and ask, “Is it relevant?” Is the content we are teaching still relevant to the needs of the students or should we be engaging in conversation about the standards and debating their relevancy? Perhaps an overhaul of the education system in terms of its’ goals for student learning is needed.

I challenge the idea of a flipped classroom or reverse instruction because I am constantly reading and hearing about how we as educators need to be lecturing less and have our students apply their understandings to tasks, which are relevant, challenging and real-world applicable. All flipped classrooms and reverse instruction seem to do is instead of make the students listen to lectures inside the classroom, they now have to spend extra time and listen to the lecture at home. Isn’t this just simple geography? In one of the articles, the teacher describes reverse instruction as, “instead of lecturing about polynomials and exponents during class time – and then giving his young charges 30 problems to work on at home – Fisch has flipped the sequence. He’s recorded his lectures on video and uploaded them to YouTube for his 28 students to watch at home. Then, in class, he works with students as they solve problems and experiment with the concepts.  Lectures at night, “homework” during the day. Call it the Fisch Flip.” https://connectedprincipals.com/archives/1534 We can call it whatever we want, but the students are still being lectured; just at home. If we focus our attention on questioning the relevancy of our current standards, and reducing the amount of content required to teach, could we not be able to combine some direct instruction with authentic application in one class?

In the Economist article, one teacher says, You can follow the progress of each child—where she started, how she progressed, where she got stuck and “unstuck” (as Ms Thordarson likes to put it). You can also view the progress of the entire class. And you could aggregate the information of all the classes taught by one teacher, of an entire school or even district, with data covering a whole year.” Sept 17, 2011. I would challenge this teacher and ask, “What if the time spent tracking progress on student work on Khan Academy was re-directed towards personally immersing oneself in the content she is asked to teach in order to explore the purpose and relevancy for teaching it? What if this teacher spent that time determining real-world applications for the content and then creating authentic tasks for the students to engage with in class?

I think technology has the power to be an incredible resource in learning, but only if we begin to critically examine what we are being asked to teach the students in terms of current relevance and future application. I will even go as far to say that in a world where my daughters are growing up amidst blogging, posting, spell check, grammar check and publishing, is learning about a compound sentence or even spelling relevant to her? Is this what she should be learning? Just saying this makes me want to throw up because deep down I totally believe it is important and how can spelling not be important. As I swallow my barf, I am at least trying to be open to looking at what knowledge is relevant despite how I may feel about it. What skills and understandings does the next generation really need? Once we focus in on what is important, we can then more effectively use technology to deepen our understandings.

3 thoughts on “What about playing while we flip reverse instruction?

  1. Sitwat Khan

    I fully agree with you a teacher must create contents which are authentic with real world application. Moreover a teacher must prioritise learning goals and objectives and figure out what aspect should be covered as reverse instructions and what elements of curriculum should be covered in classroom. This allows teacher to cater all the learning styles. (link to elearningindustry.com).

  2. Craig Polzen

    Hello Francois…

    An interesting post… and timely reading for me as I am starting to lean towards trying a flipped classroom for my final project. I too have always been skeptical about it from the perspective that a live “lesson” is much more interactive and invokes debate and discussion, rather than watching a video at home and attempting to glean something from it. So, I’m trying to figure out the best way of implementing the idea.

    I watched Philip Arniell’s video for his final Coetail project (link to coetail.com) and his version of the “flipped classroom” was a refreshing take as he borrowed the name, but found a way that made sense for him and his students.

    For me, I’m trying to figure out what will work best for my students. I’m going to plan to try the “traditional” flip, but like anything in teaching, you don’t necessarily want to follow any sort of prescribed method. I imagine that I will alter the plan and shape it as the unit (geometry) evolves… just like my day-to day.

    I plan to let the students know that this is an experiment for my research and get their feedback along the way. I’ll keep you in the loop with their thoughts and ideas… after all, they have the best perspective on how things are going.


  3. Laura Blazek

    Hi Frank,
    It’s interesting that I had the same initial response to the idea of a flipped classroom as you did. The idea that learners sit and listen to a lecture on a screen seems just as off-putting and antiquated as having them sit and listen to a lecture in the classroom. Common, modern, effective practice has shifted us from “delivering” instruction to engaging students in learning. So, how does this happen when we “flip” the classroom. I have found that Edpuzzles are a nice answer to this question. The “lectures” are engaging videos that can provide background, and embedded in these videos are comprehension questions that ensure viewers are paying attention and “getting it.” As the teacher, you can prohibit viewers from skipping sections and see how many times learners needed to watch the video to answer the questions. The questions can also provide immediate feedback to students if you select a multiple choice option.


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