What does flipping miss?

First off, the flipped classroom is not so very new, but then again, not much is.  Consider the learning cycle.  This “flips” traditional instruction by starting with student exploration, then going into concept development.  The problem is in implementation.  When using the learning cycle, many teachers simply have kids “play” with stuff, then go into a lecture and call it “concept development”.  The real downfall here of the current flip system is that “concept exploration” is defined by activities such as watch a video & listen to audio.  This is not so much concept development as it is an attempt at concept collection.  This is a subtle but important point.

Concept development is when students are the ones, with teacher guidance, developing mental models and ideas around a concept.  Concept collection, in my definition, is more like expecting kids to “collect” the concepts from the teacher in tact instead of construct the concepts from prior experiences and teacher guidance.  In most of the current dialogue around flipping, the exploration and concept development remain isolated events.  In the very best classrooms, I envision exploration leading organically into concept development.  What I envision is idiosyncratic, is VERY hard to plan for, and very hard to accomplish.

Additionally, the whole “students can engage with material at own pace” rhetoric is old news.  Kids could do that with textbooks too, but did they?  IMO, the key difference in changing education is how connection is made between content & experience. Having a prerecorded lecture cannot authentically react to kids genuine experience. It will be contrived, just like a text book is. Yet, video & textbooks are great as additional resources. As long as video or text (no matter how well designed) is the major mode of content delivery, little has changed. While kids might be doing more application in the classroom, application is very different than creation & synthesis. Application as a step forward, but it is not the goal – I want students to create as they learn, not just after they learn.


*Hat tip to Frank Noschese
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6 Responses to What does flipping miss?

  1. johntspencer says:

    I’m not so sure that I agree with the learning cycle. I see learning more as a web, where each method is interconnected. The sequence depends on the topic, the needs of the student, the level of prior knowledge and the difference between a skill or a concept (though even this can be very muddled). Whether it is true inquiry or guided inquiry or even direct instruction (which I still think is necessary in some subjects with some topics) depends upon the context.

    I get frustrated with the learning cycle or with backward design or with the I do – we do – you do structure that my district adopts because the context (in the broadest sense of the word) should drive the instruction.


    • jerridkruse says:

      I absolutely agree. I tried to allude to this a bit when I talked about the connection between exploration and concept development. As a teacher becomes more comfortable with using student thinking to drive instruction, the boundaries and cyclical nature disappear and the web develops. All of these things you’ve described are simply heuristics. They are not the reality of effective teaching, they are our attempt to create a model of effective teaching. Models, by nature, are limited.

      I am not really a fan of Gradual release (I do, we do…). I find this model to over simplified. A colleague told me that my view of it is oversimplified and that the model is not necessarily linear. Fair enough, I like that the model stretches and bends, but that’s not how I hear people talking about it, or how I see people using it.

      GRR & the flipped classrom are linear models- to me this makes them the most simple models and good models for introducing new ideas.

      The Learning cycle is at least circular and bends back on itself so is a bit more complex, but still misses out.

      The web you describe is infinitely complex – while it may be more accurate, it is harder for people to understand, so may not be useful until some other changes have already been made.

      PS. By the end of my course, I expect my students to be able to make a web. :)


      • jerridkruse says:

        As Einstein was unsatisfied with the uncertainty principle because it was a limited model of matter. I am (and suspect you are too, john) unsatisfied with the limited models of teaching. They are useful, but they are not reality. I guess I just get frustrated when people want to make reality in the form of our models rather than make our models in the form of reality.

        A new form of idolatry? hmmm. :)


    • jerridkruse says:

      yes, i’m spamming my own blog, but…

      I agree that we do need direct instruction, but this does not have to be “lecture”. I tell students things often in my teaching, but before I tell them something, I set them up for it with either an observation or a question. Then after I tell them (not more than 1 minute of me talking is my goal), I follow up with a reflective question. DI? yes. lecture? no


  2. Amber Brown says:

    I agree that Gradual Release has its drawbacks, what confuses me most about Flipping is that I guess I don’t have a clear picture of how it works. At first, I could see how a science teacher could make good use of it because science really should be a hands-on subject. However, even that got a little muddled in my mind as I pictured students entering a Chemistry lab and lighting bunson (sp?) burners with little to no background information about objectives. I would really like to understand this more as I think Flipping has the potential to capture student interest in a different way from Gradual Release.


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