Flipped learning in middle school science is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction is completed by the student independently and interactive learning, practice and reinforcement occurs as a group in the classroom. This “flip” reinvents the traditional passive lecture in class followed by independent practice at home, changing the priority from passive to active learning.
78% of teachers surveyed in 2014 report having tried flipping their classroom for at least one lesson and 96% of those who tried it said that it was a success. Here are some tips to help you incorporate more flipped learning in your middle school science classroom.
What is Flipped Learning?
Traditional classrooms have teachers instructing students on content in the classroom and then assign students practice for homework. In this method of instruction, the classroom time focuses on the passive receipt of knowledge but the active practicing of the knowledge or skill takes place at home.
Flipped learning is a method of instruction that assigns students the activity of viewing a lecture or copying notes at home and then practicing with the teacher in the classroom. In a flipped classroom, the active learning takes place in school and the passive learning takes place at home. Students are exposed to new material on their own and have the opportunity to ask question, review concepts, and practice skills with their teacher the next day.
Flipped Learning and COVID
For the past 18 months, we’ve had students virtual, hybrid, in person, synchronous, asynchronous, and all combinations of the above. Flipping the classroom enables virtual or absent students to keep up with new material.
What are some examples of Flipped Learning?
What kinds of assignments and activities can students do at home in a flipped learning situation?
- Video or Screencast yourself presenting your lecture, providing students with a copy of cloze notes or interactive notes to record what they learned. If you work with a team, you can take turns recording the video. Try one video this year. Add another one next year. Keep going. Over the past several years, I’ve collected a library of videos – one for each “lecture” – that I can assign to students in a flipped learning situation. Keep your videos short – maybe 10-15 minutes – to allow students an opportunity to repeat and review as needed.
- Use pre-made videos to teach a concept rather than record yourself if you’re more comfortable that way. Khan Academy is a good place to start.
- Students can complete an assessment.
- Complete an independent PearDeck, NearPod, or review activity.
- Listen to podcasts.
What kinds of assignments and activities can students do in school in a flipped learning situation?
- Q&A to review.
- More labs!
- Socratic Seminars.
- Class discussions.
- Data analysis.
- Group activities, collaboration.
- Problem based learning.
- Peer learning.
How does Flipped Learning work?
In a flipped learning classroom, the teacher switches from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side,” offering opportunities for practice and support for individual students. In the middle school science classroom, the teacher acts more as a lab assistant than a director, offering materials and guided explorations leading to experimentation.
Flipped Learning advantages and disadvantages
What do we love about it?
In middle school science, flipping the classroom offers enormous benefits. More class time can be spent conducting experiments, collecting data, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions.
One advantage of flipped learning is that students learn more effectively by using class time for small group activities and individual help. Giving student autonomy and greater control over their learning increases engagement, comprehension, and retention. Students can work at their own pace to learn new content and review videos as many times as they need to understand.
Flipping the classroom increases the quality of in class group projects, discussions and debates. Students take more ownership of their knowledge.
What do we not love about it?
A notable disadvantage of flipping the classroom is that it relies very heavily on technology. Schools that don’t have one-to-one devices will find it more challenging to implement and will have to depend on families to provide technology for their students.
Some students struggle with personal responsibility and have a difficult time transitioning to owning their own learning. They complete the independent assignments with little thought or clarity and are unable to participate in the class activities the next day. A cycle of failure is hard to break.
I believe that flipping the classroom results in less “sit and listen” and more “do and learn” in the classroom which makes learning more engaging, enjoyable, and productive for students. It’s also a lot more fun for teachers!