Tips for flipping your classroom


Flipped classrooms – what are they and how do they work? Earnie Kramer offers some advice.

How can I engage students to improve their performance and understanding? How can I increase student engagement? Are students really doing the homework themselves? Do students actually understand what I’m teaching?

These questions are constantly on most educators’ minds regardless of different styles of teaching. In answering them, many teachers have adopted the innovative teaching style of a “flipped classroom”. This method of teaching has grown in popularity over the last few years due to its emphasis on collaboration and student comprehension. 

A flipped classroom reverses the traditional structure of a classroom to limit one-way communication and expand teacher-to-student and student-to-student collaboration. 

It encompasses any use of technology to deliver instruction outside of the classroom, while traditional “homework” and activities are performed during class time. In a way, homework and classes “swap places”.

In the most popular flipped classroom format, students take notes from a teacher-created “vodcast” (video podcast or video clips) at home, instead of taking notes in class. Students can pause, rewind, and repeat the lesson as they need. 

In the classroom, the teacher engages the students in active and practical applications of the lesson knowing that students have read the topics.

Students are able to use different material and multimedia instruction to learn at their own pace by going over classroom materials at home. A flipped classroom offers more individual learning, unique to the student’s learning style and education level, resulting in increased retention, interest and engagement in class.

Traditional “homework” turns into collaborative, more meaningful activities with the teacher by the student’s side, playing an active role as students complete their assignments. Students don’t have to rely on parents or inaccurate internet resources to complete homework, but can turn to the teacher, during the activity, to ask for guidance. A teacher can revisit a topic, problem or concept and reform the pace of the lesson plan based on students’ feedback.

Student comprehension and retention, not assignment completion, are an educator’s primary goals. In a flipped classroom, the teacher plays a more proactive role by engaging with students as they work through problems and discussions.

The increase in collaboration and communication has a positive impact on student-teacher relationships and can provide more relevant and accurate evaluation. The teacher can then prescribe remediation or supplemental material to increase performance.

This model also promotes peer collaboration between teachers. With a virtual learning platform, teachers can upload resources to share with other faculty, supply teachers and parents. Educational content and lesson plans can also be exchanged between educators. 

So, if you are interested in trying a flipped classroom model, try these tips for flipping.

The challenge

Evaluate your students’ struggles. Arguably the most significant reason to flip a classroom is the increased interaction between teacher and student. The primary goal is to have a teacher by the student’s side when he/she is struggling, rather than the student hitting a wall of confusion while doing homework at home. In order to make the most of the flip, teachers should know specifically where their students are struggling in order to focus their flipping efforts. If a teacher knows that students are struggling with their genetics homework, for example, they should start there.

The format

Determine your format. A flipped classroom does not always have to be a YouTube lecture that students watch at home, followed by group work in the classroom. In fact, experts on flipping warn against relying too much on one-way communication. Try sending students home with a news article to discuss the next day or a documentary to watch followed by a group project in class. Multimedia teaching can include a plethora of different approaches in addition to vodcasts.    


Prepare students. It is called “flipping” for a reason: it is a different format to what most teachers and students are used to. Be sure that students are aware of your expectations for the new classroom format and they completely understand the logistics. Communicate your goals for inverting your classroom activity and listen to students’ concerns.  


Communicate with parents. Because a flipped classroom involves change within the classroom as well as activities at home, it is important to involve the parents. Be sure to communicate your goals, expectations and your format with parents so that they can be supportive. Remember, homework, as they know it, will be quite different and it is important that they understand how the new format works.

And finally

Do not go overboard. Flipping can be overwhelming for students and teachers and biting off more than you can chew could be detrimental to progress. Not everything in the classroom has to undergo the flipping renovation in order to see results. Try flipping a couple of lessons at a time or just one subject area. Test the waters and take note of what works and what does not.

  • Earnie Kramer is a director of Lightspeed Systems.

Further reading
Five Reasons Flipped Classrooms Work:


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