I have a question about the flipped classroom. The most common narrative I hear is:
I used to lecture in class, and give students practice for homework. Now, I videotape the lecture and students watch it at home. Then, they come in and we do homework in class, where students can work together and I can support students who need it.
My question is — from glimpses I’ve seen into flipped classrooms, the videos are typically 10 minutes or less. In a 45 minute class, even with a warm-up and other administrative things to start class, if you only need 10 minutes for explicit instruction, that seems to allow a ton of time for students to do math in class.
If it’s just 10 minutes, there seems to be more value in giving explicit instruction in person. Teachers can give that instruction responsively, adapting it to what students know and don’t know, or breaking it into bits and pieces interspersed with student practice or motivated by intellectual need in the moment. I’m also a huge skeptic of the value of homework, in particular in supporting students who need the most help.
I do see the value in creating videos as resources for kids to return to as needed, and for supporting students who miss time in class. And that added time to get kids doing math in class absolutely has value — I don’t mean to be flippant about what can get done in an extra ten minutes. But I don’t see the marginal gains of a flipped classroom to be the disruptive, game-changing pedagogy I see it framed as in the media.
I’m not writing to attack flipped classrooms. I know some really thoughtful teachers who do it extraordinarily well. But I don’t like the narrative around flipped classrooms in the broader ed world. It seems to position two opposing perspectives on math classrooms. Either teachers spend class every day lecturing to bored kids and sending them away with homework they don’t understand and struggle through each night, or students are watching the lecture at home and engaging in dynamic, collaborative problem solving in class. Those aren’t the only two options, and I prefer to live in a middle ground that I find works for my students, in my context.