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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Flipping the elementary classroom

January 18, 2013

Flipped classrooms are a hot topic right now. In case it's a new term for you, here's a brief description. A flipped classroom flips, or reverses, traditional teaching methods. Traditionally, the teacher talks about a topic at school and assigns homework that reinforces that day's material. In a flipped classroom, the instruction is delivered online, outside of class. Video lectures may be online or may be provided on a DVD or a thumb drive. Some flipped models include communicating with classmates and the teacher via online discussions. The recorded lecture can be paused, rewound, re-watched and forwarded through as needed. Then, class time is spent doing what ordinarily may have been assigned as homework. Class time may also be spent doing exercises, projects, discussions, or other interactive activities that illustrate the concept.

At the heart of the flipped classroom model is the desire to have classrooms be more active and engaging, and to give teachers more time to interact directly with students in small group or individual settings.

At this point, most flipped classrooms are in high schools and colleges. This makes sense when you consider the amount of lecture that takes place in upper-level classrooms. However, the concept is finding its way into elementary classrooms too. In my opinion, at the elementary level, the "flip" has less to do with replacing lecture material and more to do with providing background knowledge on a topic before it's taught.

For example, when I taught second grade, we always did a big unit on Explorers. If I were using a flipped classroom model, I could have assigned homework that included watching one or more of the explorers videos from National Geographic Kids or some of the famous explorers videos from The kids could come in that first day with some understanding of their explorer and we could start our classwork from there — jumping right in with our information-gathering matrix or more reading about an individual.

If you'd like to know more about this topic, here are some resources to get you started:

Flipped Learning Network, elementary grades

Flipping the Elementary Classroom A good blog post on the topic by Jon Bergmann, one of the pioneers in the Flipped Classroom Movement

Pros and Cons of the Flipped Classroom from Edutopia

A popular infographic on the topic


We have found in our Title 1 school that while students do not have computers their parents have Smart Phones and have access to Edmodo and other online learning platforms.

Love it, and I guess I am a lucky one - lots of technology at school and the kids have it at home too!! Can't wait to get started.

No TV's, no Computers, No Parental support = No Homework = No Prior Knowledge

I have 22 students in my class and two have home computers. Can you say technology gap?

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"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain