How a Flipped Classroom can Help Differentiate Instruction

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May 5, 2021

Teachers differentiate instruction in order to accommodate the various learning styles of their students. Presenting the same material in multiple formats (written, oral, visual and combined) allows students a variety of options for processing information. Differentiating instruction also means that teachers observe and understand the differences and similarities among students and use this information to plan instruction.
It can be a challenge for teachers to employ methodologies for authentic assessments that reveal learning differences. Another challenge is finding the time to assess and collect data that can inform instruction. During the pandemic, finding time and space for assessments can be even more challenging. In order to overcome these challenges, educators will benefit from developing an agile mindset, a way of framing educational goals that allows teachers to remain open to the changes along with innovative solutions available to the 21st century learner and educator.

How a Flipped Classroom Can Help Teachers Differentiate Instruction

A flipped classroom can help set teachers and learners up for successful differentiated learning in both virtual and physical classrooms. In a flipped classroom “direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter” (The Flipped Learning Network, 2014).

By flipping your class, direct instruction happens outside of classroom time and allows each student to learn at their own pace.

The focus of the self-paced direct instruction in a flipped classroom model is on remembering and understanding the material. Higher level learning of applying and analyzing the material happens during class. So instead of using in-class time to instruct a large group of students as they would in a traditional model, teachers are able to pay attention to individual students or small groups of students who are working on a particular assignment, project, or problem.

In class learning becomes focused on higher order thinking and can include peer learning while the teacher is present and free to assess learning styles as well as monitor engagement and understanding and scaffold as needed.

How Teachers Can Create a Flipped Classroom

  1. Create a lesson plan outlining the key learning outcomes.
  2. Make a video. Instead of instructing the class in-person, make a video of yourself teaching the lesson, screen record your computer, or find a video covering the same lesson. Make sure that whatever video you choose, contains the same key concepts you would include if you were teaching in person.
  3. Make the flip! Assign the video instead of homework, clarifying that video will be discussed in class and that the classwork will build upon the video content. In class, assign individual or group work. Make sure that you have a good plan for how students can use the content shared in the video during class. Give them meaningful ways to engage with, analyze, and apply what they have learned.
  4. Observe, assess, and differentiate. Take time to observe where students might be having difficulty and where students are excelling. Notice how students are engaging in learning in order to better differentiate in the future.

These are challenging times for students and educators. A flipped classroom is one way to meet these challenges head-on, without sacrificing differentiated instruction.