How do we flip classrooms when they don’t do homework?

I am very interested in the “flipped” classroom model. One district here in Minnesota, Byron Public Schools, has gained national notoriety for its flipped model for learning. If you are not familiar with the flipped model, it works like this: teachers record themselves explaining the concept (in Byron’s case, math), and showing examples and upload the videos to YouTube or school websites. The students access these lectures from home and can take them at whatever pace they need to. The following class period, the teachers assign homework or projects to practice the concept or engage the learner to use the concept in some way, and then can individualize instruction in the classroom.

I think the concept is very novel and I believe, especially for math concepts, could be really effective. I do, however, have some crucial concerns about the widespread efforts to implement this:

  1. If my posse don’t do homework, why would I believe they would watch videos? Sure, it may be a little more flashy, but if a kid will not, or can not (yes, I believe this to be true in many cases), complete ordinary homework, would it really make a difference what the format is? Enrichment and practice is one thing, but what of the students who arrive in class having not viewed the videos?
  2. Is this the best format? Is it portable and mobile enough? Do students watch the videos on smartphones on the bus to the game? I know many athletes read assigned homework in such situations. Does the use of technology free the student’s mobility, or does it shackle them?
  3. Would it work in inner-city or low socio-economic areas? Studies still show a wide digital divide in some areas, not just with access to computers, but with access to affordable broadband internet. Some areas of larger cities have no access from cable or phone companies whatsoever. What of these schools?
  4. It seems to work well for math and science, but does it translate the same for Language Arts? Social Studies? Might this be a strategy to build math departments, and no whole districts around?

I have done a lot of research, and as yet, I do not see much in the way of addressing these questions. If you have anecdotal information to share, please do.


4 thoughts on “How do we flip classrooms when they don’t do homework?

  1. My sentiments exactly! Flipping the classroom is just one more tool in the toolbox – not a mandated, schoolwide policy. It’s got a fairly niche use and should only be put to use if the conditions are right. It’s all about finding what works best in any given situation. In some cases flipping the classroom will be it. In others, it won’t.

  2. Some posses don’t do homework because the sheriff gave them meaningless, repetitive tasks to carry out. Students watching the assigned video has not been a problem for us in math, however a wider group of students in other disciplines might not be so focused. We’ll be trying it in social studies next year, so we’ll see.

    1. That’s my point exactly. I think it works in math in ways that a district-wide rollout may not bear out. Thanks for the input. What is your sociao-economic breakdown? Any issues there?

  3. It places a higher value on the homework. Students that do not (or cannot) watch the videos will be missing instruction. It may be a supplement in PBL or another broad based project. I have used it successfully but I have older motivated students in my Physics classroom

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