Unless one has managed to somehow avoid all professional conferences, publications, and conversations for the past year or so, we all have heard the buzz around the hot, new trend in classroom practice: flipped instruction. The concept first caught my eye in 2007, when I saw a news stories about Colorado educators Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, the “godfathers” of flipped classrooms. I was truly intrigued at the time and curious about what the long-term potential was for their innovative approach. Fast forward to the present, and the concept is the hottest movement afoot in the field. Several initial studies seem to validate proponents’ support of flipped learning. The current issue of Tech & Learning includes a Classroomwindow survey in which an astounding 99% of teachers who used flipped learning this year say they will use it again next year, and 88% report increased job satisfaction. 67% report higher student test scores, and 80% have seen improved student motivation. Obviously, there is enough substance here to warrant further exploration.

To this end, we offered our first courses in flipped classrooms this summer as part of our technology training offerings. These were designed as exploratory courses for our teachers, many of whom had no knowledge of the flipped classroom concept prior to attending. We employed something of a flipped professional development model at the outset–having them work in groups to look at articles, videos, and examples online, then create presentations explaining what they had learned. Their understanding of the concept was truly exciting, and there was a real, palpable buzz about the possibilities for our schools. The graphic below shows a summary of their products. Click to enlarge.

Note that they perceptively understood that flipped classrooms are about more than videos or switching classwork and homework. They are about putting greater responsibility for learning in the hands of students and equipping them with the tools to succeed. The teacher becomes the coach/mentor/guide, and students research, collaborate, create, and share what they have learned.

We spent the remainder of the class learning about technology tools to facilitate flipped classrooms, including online videos, podcasts, screencasts, etc. They were truly some of the most exciting professional development sessions I have been privileged to help facilitate.

Thanks to those brave risk-takers who participated this summer. I look forward to seeing how this benefits the kids in your classrooms this year!