Perks of a Flipped Primary Classroom

--Originally published at Flipping My Primary Classroom

There are some teachers who think that the flipped classroom is just for high school. I don’t agree.  In a sense – it all depends how you define ‘The Flipped Classroom’.

If your definition of the Flipped Classroom is this: ‘a classroom in which all the instructional content is viewed at that home, and in which the homework is done in class’, then yes, I would agree with you. The Flipped Classroom is probably not for Primary schools.
But I do not think that is an accurate definition of the Flipped Classroom. I prefer Aaron Sam’s definition (a leader in this movement) first posted on his blog in 2011.
When you read anything about The Flipped Classroom mentally substitute
"a class that uses screencasts as an instructional tool" for "the Flipped Classroom" and all will be well.

I hope that opens a few doors for you. All we are really talking about today is the concept of using screencasts, or ‘learning videos’ in order to help your students learn (in or out of the classroom). 

I have been doing this for five years in my primary classroom. And I have seen the results. My classroom is transformed. It is transformed for the better. The students learning has improved, and they prefer it. I've got more time to work one-on-one with particular groups or individuals. Furthermore – I am able to differentiate the curriculum to a degree which I was not able to previously.
I suggest it's all down to personal devices being more available to individuals, and the latent growth of Wi-Fi we have seen in classrooms, and a little creative-thinking. That's it. In a nutshell, there are new technologies available that can dramatically (for the better) change how we as teachers teach. It's not rocket science.
How can you do it?  Make some screencasts or learning videos that you think you can use in your classroom (students tend to prefer your own).  The videos do not need to be Hollywood productions.  They just need to be. Here is a pretty basic example of a very low – tech video that I put together recently, that my students found very helpful.
You can incorporate screencasts into the students learning in any way that works for you – and the students.  Perhaps you can have them watch the lessons at home? (This doesn’t really work for me. Though…it might for you.) 
Perhaps you could put them into small groups and have different groups engaged in different lessons pertinent to their specific needs? (I tend to do this a bit.)  A regular practice for me is to perform a pre-test with the students (before the final summative assessment).  In this way I very quickly, in an ad hoc manner -  gather some information with the students about what they are specifically struggling on.  After this, students access topic specific screencast that the pre-test has revealed they need some help with.  The screen casts contain brief lessons and activities within.  I am then able to then wander around the classroom helping individual students as they need, whilst really, the entire class is receiving multiple different lessons pertaining to their specific needs. 
Another classic example is the weekly spelling test.  Are you still reading out one list for all the students to write down?  Are you still waiting for the slowest speller to move at the pace of the class?  You don’t need to do it this way.  You could record the spelling list on You-Tube and students could access it, at their own speed on separate devices.
Yesterday I had six girls away at the soccer competition. It was four days before the highly important yearly standardized (NAPLAN) testing we complete across Australia in Year 5. They missed a very important writing lesson.  The lesson itself was broken up into separate parts and took about one and a half hours. The lesson was not all lecture. There was plenty of ‘listen and do’ in the lesson.  I made a very basic recording of the entire lesson in 15 minute segments, as I taught it. I just used my ordinary old iPhone to record and the ‘old-school’ whiteboard (not electronic).  
All the girls came in the next day, put on their headphones, accessed their devices, turned on the lesson, and caught up to the rest of the class. Here’s one small part of the lesson. Please notice how basic it is! :) It didn’t have to great. It just had to be available. (So pleased with the 'still-image' YouTube has captured.)

I asked the girls did they feel part of the lesson? They said yes.  Subsequently, I saw the girls' writing. It was more than adequate.  They were prepared for the exam. Of course, students will need devices. They will also need headphones. This you will have to sort.Technology is changing. And so should teaching. Some people think that students can learn from devices. That’s simply not true.  Of course they can.  At this point, what student can’t do with devices is debate, collaborate and empathize with. Devices will not be able to facilitate the lesson. Students still need each other, and you.But the days of you standing at the front delivering one lecture to the class at one speed, at one time? I think, given the Wi-Fi access that we have today and the devices available to many students, those days are probably coming to a close. 
Matt Burns is the Stage 3 Coordinator at William Carey Christian School, Sydney, Australia.
Previously he was the Flipped Classroom Coach K-12 at Inaburra School, Sydney, Australia.
He is a regular speaker at Australia Flip-Con, and is happy to speak at your school as well. He can be reached at mattburns1976@gmail or @BurnsMatthew (Twitter)

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