Supporting Struggling Learners in the Flipped Classroom


I have been using the flipped classroom model for the last two years in my math and science classes. For science, we use online tutorials outside of class and labs and activities to help support these understanding and clear up misconceptions. For math, I assign videos to watch with summarizing activities along with critical thinking that we translate into math labs before independent practice.

There are many supporters of the flipped classroom model and also many people who have tried it and moved on. Personally, I think that there are varying degrees of effectiveness of this model and many variations of making it meaningful. If you are thinking about using a flipped classroom model, know this: it solves some problems and creates others. I'll try to share what I've learned through my journey using this instructional model.

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  1. Flipped classrooms may lead to procrastination. With the flipped classroom model, teachers usually say that when class time is finished, the assignment is finished. Work time usually ranges from 30 to 40 minutes, but I've found that some of my struggling students figure that if they "wait it out" they won't have to do as much work. I tell my students what the expectations are and if they don't meet the expectations within the time frame, the work is incomplete. 
  2. Provide resources for mixed ability classrooms. If you are a language arts teacher and are teaching summarizing, consider giving longer texts with higher lexile ranges for gifted readers. Shorter ones for emergent ones. The same thing applies to math. Give some higher level assignments for high fliers and basic recall assignments for emergent mathematicians. Consider reviewing your MAP test data to suggest assignment levels for different students. However, give them the choice.
  3. Vary up your flipped assignments. The typical approach to flipped assignments is to tell students to "take notes" or "write a summary" of a video. Try to preview the video ahead of time and pose some guided questions. Also, provide some variety of assignments and high quality questions to not make them monotenous. 
  4. Have your struggling students be discussion leaders. Discussing homework can be a challenge if students do not do them. Typically, students that are struggling in my class are ones that don't come prepared for class and often are at a loss as they don't know what is going on when class time starts. I think that its so important to discuss homework rather than just "checking it off" as it helps clear up misconceptions and provides the opportunity to ask questions. Being a discussion leader puts students in the epicenter of a commenting web related to learning goals.

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