Frequently Asked Questions

Mrs. Burton helping a student
Photo taken by Dohan Gallagher.

What do you do when students do not have Internet at home?

In order for students to learn the objectives at home without the use of the internet, teachers can assign pages out of the textbook or provide copies of a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation that is covered in the video. For students who have computers, but no Internet, I have copied the video to a students' USB drive (or an extra USB drive of mine) so that students can watch the video at home even without the internet. Additionally, I always remind them that our school library is open to them before or after school, as are public libraries. Since Internet connectivity isn't always reliable for all students, I ALWAYS suggest a textbook alternative when available.
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How many videos do you assign each week?

This varies by teacher. I have found that two to three videos per week is appropriate for my students. I ALWAYS give at least two nights between the time I assign the video and the day the video is due. By giving them more than one night to view the video, more students are likely to view it and if they have problems viewing the first night, they can discuss other options with you in class the next day.
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What if my lesson lasts longer than the recommended 5 to 7 minutes?

It is suggested that students will become disinterested in videos that last too long, plus longer videos take longer to download and may be too large to upload to a hosting site. If your video lesson lasts longer then the recommended length, consider breaking it up into parts. By having your lessons in "chunks", students can take a break and process the information in each part.
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What if students forget or refuse to watch videos at home?

Much like the traditional classroom, there is a penalty when students don't do their homework. However, when a student doesn't learn the objectives outside of class, he/she can potentially fall very behind. Different teachers have different approaches. Some teachers require that students take a zero for the class activity and watch the video in class instead. Others have assigned lunch detentions, and required that students watch the video at lunch. My approach, however, is that the student takes a zero on the Notes Quiz, then, through the process of writing the summary on our notes as a class, and through peer-teaching, the student is "brought up to speed" on the objective. I remind him or her that he or she should go back and watch the video on their own because nothing can replace my explanation. And, I always have a discussion with students and their parents after several video lessons have been missed.
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What if, while watching a video, a student has a question or doesn't understand the material?

I am very clear to my students that if they have questions, they must come to me to get answers. I make myself available each morning before school in order for students to ask questions. I also encourage students to use our class page on Edmodo to post questions and to respond to each other's questions. If there is a lesson that is particularly more challenging, I will let my students know that I will be on Edmodo at a certain time for one hour. This allows students to post questions, and know that I will be there to answer them.
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Do you flip all of your lessons?

I have to say that no, I do not flip every single lesson, however, most of the objectives in my curriculum are taught through videos. There is no rule that says every single lesson or the entire lesson must be flipped. Flipping just means that instruction is done outside of the classroom to make room for more effective practice in the classroom. I have seen teachers flip the instructions for how to use software or the instructions for a project. Teachers have flipped a "teaser" to a lesson taught in class. I would like to note, however, that the more often a teacher does flipped lessons at home, the more common place it becomes. Students must be trained to get into the habit of doing this non-traditional type of homework.
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How did you introduce the flipped method to students and parents?

When I first started to flip my teaching, one of the biggest mistakes that I made was to just assign a video as homework. I soon learned that students needed to be taught how to watch an instructional video and how to take notes. Now, I do two things to help students and parents to understand that my class is non-traditional. I send home a letter to explain the concept to parents and I watch the first video in class with my students. We all take notes together and compare what we've written. Students want to know that they are doing things correctly. By viewing the first video in class they have an example to follow.
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What do parents say about the flipped method of learning?

Most parents love this method. Because most of my parents are unable to help their child with French homework, they are happy that the reinforcement activities are done in the classroom, instead of at home. It is much easier for parents to monitor that their child is taking notes while watching a video, instead of correctly completing a worksheet. I also have many parents say that they, too, are learning along with their child. I have had a few parents who have expressed frustration with the method because they feel that their child needs to be able to be face to face with the teacher to ask questions. My answer to these parents is that I want my students to be self-reliant to learn to be investigative to find answers to questions. This is a skill that will last students a life-time.
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Did you ask your administration before embarking on this instructional change?

To be honest, I did not. When I learned about the flipped method, I did hours of research and webinars to learn the best practices, then I just ran with it. I have heard stories about teachers who have met resistance with their administration. Before adopting the flipped method, if you feel that your administration may be skeptical, you should plan a meeting with your principal to discuss what the flipped method is and how you will implement it. It is always a good idea to come armed with statistical data to support your claims. This infograph from Knewton.com has some of the data that helped me to make the decision to flip.
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How long does it take you to create a video lesson?

I have to laugh when I get asked this question. When I first embarked on creating video lessons, I was clueless, and there was no one out there to show me how to do a screencast or post a video to the web. I learned by trial and error. There were times when one five minute video took four hours. Now, a five minute video takes me five minutes to record, about 10 minutes to edit (if I choose to edit) and one minute to post on the web.
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Do you have any advice for a new "flipper"?

Stick with it!! At times creating videos will be time-consuming and frustrating. There will be days when it seems like none of the kids are watching the videos on their own. There will be technology issues along the way. However, when effective reinforcement activities are done in class, the flipped classroom truly does help students to learn the objectives. Once the students realize that you are serious about this method of instruction, they will become serious, too. Don't give up!
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