Since all the students in my school have internet access either because their family provides it or because of other accommodations, people often ask me if I flip my classroom. I’ve decided to say that mine just rolls. My main concern is academic maturity level. Academically immature students are not usually enthusiastic about watching instructional videos at home. The culture I live in provides many distractions and relatively little structure that would encourage a student to focus on academics. A white paper at a recent presentation posted by Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement showed that lower achieving students were less likely to have ready access to the internet and would be more adversely affected than higher achieving students (retrieved from https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1wZ6I37SA_PyPWhG1coedjJpDr2z0k23BCCJ3_G9VAz0/edit#slide=id.g468629593_047). When I use video for a primary means of instruction, many of my students miss that instruction.
That is not to say I never have students watch a video for homework, it just means I am very selective as to when I do that. Here is a screen capture of my first week’s assignments posted online:
On the left side, I have a list of key skills to be learned that day; and the header has a downloadable student reflection sheet with examples for each key skill for the unit. Students keep track of their learning and retention for each of those key skills. On the right side, lessons and solutions can be downloaded including those key skills. I keep links to my instructional materials there as well so I can easily share with other teachers (for free, just ask). Whenever I need to flip a lesson, I simply grab a video link from the right column and insert it into the homework column.
If inquiry learning trumps direct instruction, then inquiry trumps direct instructional video. While a video can provide a “try it” that can help a student self-assess, students will often invent procedures (and postulates) that work in isolated contexts and the believe those procedures work in general. Self-reflection may not catch the misconception as the student effects the correct answer with the invented method. If a student is learning by inquiry within the classroom, teacher observations can immediately correct freshly invented postulates.
Some students process slowly and benefit by previewing my lesson videos before attending class so they can follow the discussions better. When a student is absent, they can keep up with the class by watching the lesson video and doing the activities in revised versions for individuals. Sometimes students use my videos to review key skills they have forgotten or were unable to master during the classroom activity. Occasionally I assign a video or reading as the sole source of instruction for a topic, but seldom is a video the sole mode of access to the information I present. As with teachers who routinely flip, classroom time affords many other avenues to access learning.
An argument can be made for consistency. When students know exactly what they will do for each lesson, there is a routine that diminishes cognitive load and emotional stress. Some students prefer to change things up. In my experience, no matter what method I use, about a third love it, a third don’t care for it, and a third are in the middle. So if I do one method every day, is that equitable? Instead, I choose to match the instructional method to the topic. That works well for my students. We just roll with it.