Monday, March 10, 2014

The Flipped Lesson Face Lift

The Flipped Lesson Face Lift

Everyone is talking about the flipped type of classroom.  While I have my own reservations about the style, especially with Middle School age students, I realize that it certainly has power.  There are a lot of positives that can come out of a flipped lesson.  Most importantly, it allows students to go at their own pace and provides an archive of lessons that students can return to at any moment.  There in fact are many similarities to the classic Beit Midrash class where students prepare the ma'are mekomot before the actual formal shiur.  However, I do not like that the video completely replaces the teacher while the student is watching at home.  We as teachers, can't be there to explain, and even make sure that the students are really watching the video as opposed to just going through the motions.  This has led me to try a semi-flipped class similar to what Rabbi Pittinsky @techrav has blogged about numerous times with one change....

I don't understand how creating a video of reading and explaining the text is anything different than standing in the front of the room with the class reading the text.  True, the text is important.  True, it is obviously a crucial point in the learning process.  But why can't we take it to the next level and add pictures/media to bring the stale classical flipped lesson to life?  If we as teachers pride ourselves on being engaging, why stick to a video of us just reading the text?

I decided to try it out last night.  I made a video (click here to see it) for my Navi class about the famous story of David and Batsheva for my 7th and 8th grade classes.  My goal was for the students to watch the video on their computers while taking down notes and writing questions down as well.  The next day we would get together as a class to discuss what we learned and delve into the various meforshim that bring clarity to the confusing story.  Before watching the video I made sure to set the stage and explain how the video was based on the words and that it should be confusing.  My students LOVED the video.  Not only because it allowed them to learn at their own pace, and to watch and re-watch certain parts, but because it had life to it.  

Now, I in no way think what I did was anything special.  In fact, it is pretty basic (and even a bit corny).  However, if the flipped lesson is going to work, I feel it needs to be stepped up and a bit more engaging for everyones benefit. 

I would love your feedback and comments.  My email is 


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