Yes! Flip Your Classroom!

Yes! Flip Your Classroom!Dissonance.

According to, dissonance can be defined as “lack of agreement or consistency.”

From my research, it is one of the hallmarks of any successful organization.

In Good to Great Jim Collins declares:

Indeed, one of the crucial elements in taking a company from good to great is somewhat paradoxical. You need executives, on the one hand, who argue and debate – sometimes violently – in pursuit of the best answers, yet, on the other hand, who unify fully behind a decision, regardless of parochial interests.

As Ed Catmull states in Creativity Inc.:

It isn’t enough merely to be open to ideas from others. Engaging the collective brainpower of the people you work with is an active, ongoing process. As a manager, you must coax ideas out of your staff and constantly push them to contribute.

We most provoke, actively try to understand all contributions, and ultimately do what is best for “business.”

My Last Post

In my last post we took a look at the reasons why I refused to flip my fourth grade classroom. However, rather than speaking in blanket statements (which is something I have been warned not to do), I encouraged dissonance and contributions from others by asking readers to respond with opposing points of view. I then promised to include these ideas in a follow-up post.

After all…Blogging isn’t always about declaring yourself the expert, but rather leveraging your platform to provoke thinking and promote collaboration.

Here are the dissenting/somewhat dissenting responses, verbatim: (I should also mention that there were several blog comments and tweets that agreed with what I had to say…but that is not the point for this particular post.)

5 Responses

I am in my 3rd year of flipped learning and the thing I like best about it is having more meaningful relationships. When I lectured I talked to maybe 4-5 students per class, you know, the same ones that would always answer or ask questions while the others sat there passively. Now I am happy to say I have the opportunity to connect with all 24 students each and every day. The video is just the beginning, it is what goes on in class that is most important and flipped learning has given me that opportunity. – weltyteaching


4 years ago when I was under a strict pacing calendar, I found flipping to be my best bet. I was expected to cover a topic a day and assess on Fridays. I did not have time for exploration etc. Flipping afforded me the time in class to have conversations and target areas of need by placing students in ability groups to make good use of instructional time.

After two years of Common Core, my flipping looked very different and aligns nicely with Kyle’s thoughts. I would teach an exploration and make students struggle in class. Next I would send them home with a video that explains the algorithm and makes meaning of the math they struggled with in class. The next day, I would provide practice with the skills learned through the exploration and flipped video.

The in-class practice would be determined by a formative assessment where I would first see what students understood from the exploration and formative assessment then put students in ability groups. The formative assessment helped me group students based on need and target instruction accordingly. I don’t think anybody truly flipped their entire instructional practice. Just like good teaching, we assess what needs to be taught and find the best means for delivering that learning experience. – Julie Garcia


I teach math also and found that I love having a flipped classroom. Each day I am afforded the opportunity to teach my students to struggle with a concept they vaguely know about. This dynamic allows the kids to develop so many skills, mostly the 4 C’s. I spend a lot less time lecturing and a lot more time exploring. Almost every day I get to talk about gathering evidence and where can we go to collect evidence to help us with this concept. After piquing their interest, they can go home and watch the video and instructional piece that may be useful to them for solving the concept. – Chad


I have used the flipped classroom model when teaching IGCSE physics. However, I would not recommend this model as a general rule. In my case, I only flip the classroom when I feel it makes sense: when there is something that is not conceptually hard but requires extended practice. For example, when theory is extremely simple but problem solving can get complex. On the other hand, I prefer a more hands-on, inquiry-based approach when tackling more abstract concepts, for example that of the electric field. Unfortunately IGCSE coordinated science leaves very little time to cover an awful amount of content, which does not let me spend time developing things the way I would like.

I also find that the way problems are chosen is extremely important. I try to introduce two or three key ideas in the videos (which I record myself), which then get developed and extended by problem solving. It makes no sense to ask the same question over and over again with different numbers: questions have to challenge the students’ understanding and make them think. For example, if I were talking about Newton’s first law, I would make students consider situations where intuition and physics seem to give different answers, such as the fact that when you’re riding a bike at a constant speed forces are balanced, despite your feeling that you are making an effort: you’re just using all this energy to cancel air resistance, not to “move” the bike.

I also use hinge questions both at the start and at the middle of a lesson, where students use colored cups to show their answers. This helps me clarify common misconceptions before they take root.

As a corollary to your post, I would say that the model itself is less important: what’s important is being thoughtful about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. This is not an all-or-nothing affair: you can flip some lessons and not some others or you can flip part of a lesson. You can also use flipping as a redundant source of information for students who missed class or who need to constantly review.

PS This is the first time I comment here, but I find your blog a constant source of enjoyment. – Eduard Arroyo 



I commented on the Steven W. Anderson’s post that you reference here, and I will try to “sell” the idea of flipped learning in a similarly here as I did there.

In the beginning of flipping, the general idea of making videos as homework is what started, and that still is where the majority of people start. However, the term “flipped learning” has morphed into more of a focus on pedagogy. After writing a 30 page literature review for my Master’s work on flipped learning, I would say a better definition of flipped learning would be, “A teacher’s effort to critically analyze the content in their classroom and how it is taught. The teacher then makes the BEST effort to push lower level Bloom’s outside the classroom for students to self-explore/digest, in order to make MORE room inside the classroom for the upper levels of Bloom’s.” The lower levels consumed outside the classroom do NOT have to be videos (readings, discussion forum set up on an LMS, etc.). Where teachers will “fail” with flipping is by pushing lower levels out in order to make more room in class for more lower levels (skill and drill). The example you reference where a math teacher makes videos and then does word problems in class is an example of this. Students never get beyond the applying level of Bloom’s. Students need to work through Bloom’s in order to learn, period. How they work through that, and how LONG they work at each level is up to the teacher.

One key fact that became apparent in my literature review is when teachers pushed out lower levels and worked in MORE upper level activities (that is, activities where students are analyzing, evaluating, creating) INSIDE class time, students perceived the class and content to be more valuable. As a result, attendance went up as well as classroom achievement and cognitive engagement.

I have created a website based on my research. It is designed for teachers to self-lead a change from traditional teaching to flipped learning. Maybe it will also help paint a better picture than what I am doing here ( I co-teach a course for grad credit based on these same principles.

I run into people who failed at flipping and then absolutely reject the notion. If a teacher says videos followed by skill and drill is bad pedagogy, then I wholeheartedly agree and stand with them. But teachers must be willing to change this misconception in order to see what research has proven HIGHLY beneficial of flipped learning.

Love reading the other comments posted. Hopefully we can come to a common definition that reflects the true effectiveness of flipped learning.

Let me know if any of my resources helped. I’m considering putting down the money for a domain if teachers find it helpful and useful. – Jarod Bormann 


In the End

The end game is not trying to prove what is right and what is wrong. The end game is what is best for students. In order for our objective to be reached, often times we must provoke each other’s thinking, be candid, and embrace dissonance.

In short, according to one of the pillars of Google culture, “Consensus requires dissension.”

What are your overall thoughts on the significance of dissonance at work? How do you generally react when others do not agree with you? How do you encourage dissonance from your colleagues? Your students?

Connect with Ross on Twitter.


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