Flipping Out

Fair Warning

The modern world as we know it is calling out for us to use technology in education. There is such a veritable wealth of resources available that it would be foolish to disengage from the revolution that is taking place outside the classroom walls. However, ‘with great power, there must also come — great responsibility (thank you Stan Lee/Spiderman)!’

Many points from Teach Thought rang true with me. Especially number 4, namely ‘How will this tech empower students to control their own learning?’; number 5, ‘Am I more enamoured with this tech toy than my student’s learning?’ and number 9, ‘Will all students be able to access and leverage this tech?’

I completely agree that our focus must always be the children in our care. Lessons have to be delivered that are relevant and always to positively enhance the school experience for our students. We must innovate, and leverage the potential of technology to do so; but always in a way that is practical, effective and truly embedded. It is imperative that we avoid the error of our whole focus being on a fancy gadget which we heard about online, but also conversely of just ‘bolting on’ technology to already dated teaching. We have to strive to embed technology properly.

To Flip Or Not To Flip?


I have been interested in the concept of ‘flipped classrooms’ for some time, which has particularly piqued since reading blog posts like this one by Philip Arneill. The ideas surrounding this pedagogy have also been around for quite some time, after being introduced to education communities by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, and detailed extensively in their book here. I believe that if this is delivered well, then it should tick many (if not all) of the ISTE Standards.

Yet, to simply embark upon this approach without thought would surely mean that I (and more importantly, my students) would fall straight into many of the pitfalls listed in the paragraphs above. The warnings that echo from the Teach Thought Article would become a reality in my classroom. So, just how do I go about adopting aspects of this approach in a way that is practical, effective and embedded – for my Year 3 students?

If the flipped classroom is truly to become innovative, then it must be paired with transparent and/or embedded reason to know the content – Andrew Miller on Edutopia.

My research about flipped classrooms filled my browser with an array of superb ideas and approaches. I focussed particularly on versions of the pedagogy for elementary level, as befits the children in my class. The sites that particularly resonated with me were created by Jon Bergmann (that man again) and Alison Doubet. It is time for my Year 3 lessons to perform the ‘In-Class Flip!’

Don’t flip a class: flip a lesson…start with a lesson that students struggle with and make a short video – Jon Bergmann.

In-Class Flip


This would appear to me to be something that will potentially empower my class, help them all to progress and should be an effective use of technology. I started with what the children need to work on the most, within the lessons as they stand. This led me to select Mathematics as the subject of focus, particularly how the children use reasoning when solving problems, particularly when they are open ended in nature. This is also a focus for all four classes in my year group.

I find that, as we find across the syllabus, different children have different needs. Some children benefit from having instructions repeated or from having further visual representation of the problem at hand. Others need exemplification of exactly how to expand the scope of their reasoning, especially when they are writing it in a book. Lastly, others solve the problem really quickly and require additional challenges.

I have decided that in some lessons through the week, I will set up video tutorials which enhance those three areas for the children. I will still teach them, so it will not be entirely flipped, due to the fact that the children seem to benefit from this process (particularly the excellent discussion that proceeds from it, or initial practical exploration). However, perhaps the use of video opens the lesson out and increases the potential for progress among all groups of students. The children should be empowered as they will access the videos independently, in the form of self-directed assistance or challenge.  It may also free me up to give even more specific guidance, or to coach learning behaviours. I believe that it should also allow for more time in the lesson, with the focus being on additional experimentation with ideas and even…MISTAKES!

My intention is to experiment with different types of presentation methods, as I make these short video tutorials. I will allow myself to fail with this, potentially, and learn from it. Nevertheless, this article is an excellent list to start with. Later on, the children could take my lead and begin to make their own instructional videos for their mathematical solutions. Time to push them on to the next level of reasoning, and ultimately, understanding!

What presentation methods would you use?

How can I ensure that it is manageable, within the context of the busy school day?

This entry was posted in Classroom, COETAIL, Course 1, Flipped Classroom, Maths, Online 9, Reasoning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Flipping Out

  1. Nick Garvin says:

    Hi, Rory

    First of all great topic!
    I think you starting with Math lessons is a wise jumping off (or should I say somersaulting) point. Have you heard of Number Talks? It may provide you with some helpful content for structural examples and mini-lessons once the students start to take the lead and produce their own videos. At the very least it will get your students into the habit of explaining their thinking in preparation for the video. Your idea of having the children take the lead and produce their own videos is great by the way. As for your question presentation, I think Wixie looks appealing for lower primary students. Also, the mobile app Do Ink is a pretty neat green screen tool that will certainly engage your audience, maybe a bit too much but it’s a great creation app. Either way, involving the students in the process sounds like a surefire way to make sure your flipped lesson succeed. It may be hard to get it going but the more the students have some stake in the process more everyone will eagerly work through the trials and errors

    I teach Kindergarten and I’ve been interested in adopting and applying some aspects of the flipped classroom model myself for quite some time now. It even came up today with our PYPC when discussing Math at our planning meeting. The articles you linked focusing on flipped lessons through a primary school lens were stellar. Your post has encouraged me to dig deeper into similar articles and then later give this a go! Would love it if we could keep an open dialogue about this and share what works and what doesn’t throughout this experiment. I may try to start with creating my own Wixie with me and my co-teacher as the main characters, explaining the first task.

    In regards to your other question about how to manage it? I would first try to keep it short and simple. What did the article say, 1-2 minutes per grade level?? Something like that. Perhaps even have the students observe some short Khan Academy videos to get the gist of the concept.

    Best of luck in your somersaulting!!

    • Rory Bell says:

      Hi Nick,

      Thank you so much for your reply and for your suggested approaches/apps/programs. They look like great directions to take and are definitely tools that I will look into using.

      An open dialogue sounds like an excellent idea. It would be especially interesting to see the difference between how the ideas would be adapted for different age groups.

      Keep in touch.

      Thanks again,

  2. Well said, Rory. I have also been thinking about attempting to make more videos. Screencastify is on my list of things to try. I understand it’s super easy to use. I’ve used the Show Me app to create math videos before, but I haven’t done it in a while because I found that only a few students would actually watch them and the students who really needed more help, wouldn’t watch them, so I stopped. That is why some of the articles in your links are meaningful to me, as well. My videos didn’t work before because I wasn’t creating an authentic reason to improve understanding in math. I was just expecting my students to be more active in their development. I think I could work on that this year since I am now trying to create MYP math lessons. I will be looking for more conceptual-based ideas.

    I also like the video that you chose to showcase. I copied the link to my own school website so that parents could watch it. I teach middle school and at the moment we are switching over from traditional reporting to MYP assessments and reporting. Most that complaining cannot see the benefits of conceptual-based learning, inquiry, or performance tasks. They just want to see percents and letter grades and they want a textbook so they can pay a tutor to help their children memorize the text. I think this video is great for them.

    I’d be interested to see what sort of media you are using to create math tutorials. I have EquaTio too, but I also need to take time to use it more. I have only played around with it a little bit. Do you use Google Forms to create formative assessments?

    • Rory Bell says:

      Thank you for the reply and the suggested tools – again will look into using them.

      Glad that the video was useful and I am very interesting to hear about the change in direction that your school is taking. I teach in a school which is very traditional in approach and mainly centered around successions of English and Maths lessons. However, we have recently moved to a ‘mastery’ approach in Maths which involves practical exploration first and then tasks which rely on reasoning and problem solving skills. This change in direction has been a lot of work to integrate, but really beneficial for our students.

      I will have to post the results of my ‘dabbling’ with different apps, devices and tools. Watch this space!


      p.s. With regards to formative assessments, I haven’t used Google Forms…yet!


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