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February 9, 2013

Flipped Classroom

by Randy Ziegenfuss

flip1This post was contributed by Salisbury High School teacher, Miss Jennifer Brinson.

As a teacher of an Advanced Placement class there are certain pressures to “cover” a lot of material in a very short amount of time.  I teach A.P. U.S. History and the expectation by the creators of the AP test  my students will take in May is that I will “cover” Columbus to Clinton in approximately 155 days.  This is a huge undertaking!  My challenge is not only how do I “cover” this amount of material, but how do I engage my students in more than just “covering” the material.

Teaching is not about a “sage on the stage” approach, but about how we get students to engage with the material in an authentic manner. How do I become a “guide on the side”?  How do I get the kids to get their hands dirty and DO history?  How can we create, analyze, synthesize more?  How do I possibly find the time to do all of this in 160 days – and still have my students be successful on this exam – and more importantly LEARN!

The answer for me this year was flipping my classroom.  No, I did not turn my desks around so they face another wall or put the ceiling where the floor should be – I simply flipped my role from a “presenter of material” in the classroom to a consultant for the kids to use to engage more deeply with the content of the course.  It’s not an easy task and certainly not one our kids are used to, but they are kids – they embody resilience, perseverance, and adaptability.  Unlike many adults, kids accept change a little easier.

So, how do you make this happen you ask?  I create videos for my students to view outside of class.  The videos are relatively short and some involve my narration over Keynote slides or visuals, others involve me sitting in front of the camera with a series of whiteboards presenting the topics at hand.  The students watch the videos at home or in study hall on their laptop computers or other mobile devices.  This is made possible because I post the videos on YouTube and because Salisbury has educational access, my channel is available to the students during the school day. When the students come to class the next day we can discuss the material, spend time creating projects, or engaging in Socratic Seminars where students formally discuss among themselves various topics.  Our Socratic Seminars involve about half the class in actual oral discussion and the rest of the students engage in a “back channel” that we run on Edmodo where student post written responses to prompts and interact with one another in a written forum.

Flipping my classroom has made all of this possible because it has given me the gift of time. Time to engage my students in the study of history beyond mere lectures, but giving them a voice in the classroom that we would otherwise not have time for.

For more information about Flipped Classroom please visit:

SHS Instructional Tools Wiki – Flipped Classroom

To visit my A.P. U.S. History channel and see some examples of the flipped classroom videos, please visit:

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