Flip Like an Expert – Best Practices for Successful Flipped Classrooms (Part 3 – Using Class Time)

--Originally published at flnhub – Flipped Classroom Workshop

Changing how you use Class Time is a Primary Benefit of the #FlipClass

The third installment in a brief series of articles focused on capturing Best Practices for Flipped Teaching and Learning from published sources and successes.

Opportunities to know your students better, personalize their learning experience, and engage in active and collaborative learning pursuits are frequently cited as some of most meaningful benefits of the flipped classroom. For example, much of the focus in Sams and Bergmann’s “Flipping Learning: Gateway to Student Engagement” is on making the best use of the valuable face-to-face class time that flipped teaching techniques can help provide.

Here are a handful of vital considerations for using class time, culled from web resources and articles focused on best practices for the flipped classroom.

Change your notion of Class Time

The Purdue ITAP Best Practices report cites one instructor (Seigel) who “didn’t realize how much extra time he’d have in class every day. The activities he previously used were not as effective because they were designed around the idea that he would control the pace. Today, every unit contains a guided‐inquiry activity, assessments that involve engaging in a conversation with classmates and the teacher, and critical‐thinking questions in labs that require an Internet search to produce more complete answers….The biggest challenge I face every year is getting the students accustomed to thinking for themselves”. Students are used being told what to do, and too often are not expected to think and engage. It’s it up to you to change this perspective, and it starts with designing for it. (ITaP)

Be Willing to Give Up Some Control

Harvard University professor Eric Mazur explains, “If you were to step into one of my classrooms, you’d think I was teaching a kindergarten class, not a physics class …. not because the students are children, but because of the chaos and how oblivious the students are to my presence.”

Many active learning classrooms exhibited this sort of structured pandemonium. “That’s how we all learn: by actively engaging in the material rather than sitting in a classroom and writing down the words said by the professor.”, says Mazur. (Demski)

Provide in-class activities that focus on higher level cognitive activities.

The Vanderbilt Center for Teaching and Learning cites this as a key element of the flipped classroom. “If the students gained basic knowledge outside of class, then they need to spend class time to promote deeper learning.” Activities will depend on the learning goals of the class and the culture of the academic discipline. “For example, Lage, Platt, and Treglia described experiments students did in class to illustrate economic principles (2000), while Mazur and colleagues focused on student discussion of conceptual “clicker” questions and quantitative problems focused on physical principles (2001) … The key is that students are using class time to deepen their understanding and increase their skills at using their new knowledge.” (Brame)

Form small student groups that serve as ongoing workgroups for in-class activities

Andrew Miller discusses the benefits of creating the “need to know” by using a pedagogical model that demands it. “Whether project-based learning (PBL), game-based learning (GBL), Understanding by Design (UbD), or authentic literacy, find an effective model to institute in your classroom. Become a master of those models first, and then use the flipped classroom to support the learning.” (Miller)

Optimized Learning Spaces

The traditional lecture focused classroom design is centered on the notion of the teacher being the center of attention. The flipped classroom offers a great opportunity to rethink that. “As teachers implement flipped learning and find that they are not consistently presenting content to all the students at one time, many also make changes to their physical space. Sometimes this is not possible … but those teachers who have the flexibility to do so can creatively alter their spaces”. (Bergmann)

As you work to consider making the best of your learning space, Sams & Bergmann offer a few things to keep in mind:

  • Create collaborative spaces: Flipped learning “is inherently a collaborative endeavor”.
  • Create individual spaces: Not all work needs to be done in group, so this should kept in mind. If space is a challenge, noise cancelling headphones can help.
  • Emphasize student-centeredness: The layout should encourage a focus on the students, not the teacher
  • Emphasize learning, not teaching: Rearrange the room with that in mind.


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Works Cited

Bergmann, Aaron Sams & Jon. Flipped Learning: Gateway to Student Engagement. International Society for Technology in Education, 2014.

Brame, Cynthia J. “Flipped the Classroom.” n.d. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. 21 June 2015. <http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/flipping-the-classroom/>.

Demski, Jennifer. “6 Expert Tips for Flipping the Classroom.” 23 January 2013. Campus Technology. <http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/01/23/6-expert-tips-for-flipping-the-classroom.aspx>.

Miller, Andrew. “Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom.” 24 February 2012. Edutopia. <http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-classroom-best-practices-andrew-miller>.

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