Flipped learning: Time to reconsider how to implement the Common Core

Are you ready for the Common Core State Standards?

Over the past few months, I have asked a number of teachers this question, and few of them feel prepared. Many have attended training sessions on the new national standards but don’t feel up to the task of implementing them. For most teachers, it seems like one more initiative being thrust upon them.

I have examined the new math, English and science standards, and I am encouraged that they really do challenge students to go deeper and use higher-order skills. But the problem is most teachers have been preparing students for the old state tests. Make no mistake: Teaching to the new standards requires completely different teaching methodologies than teaching to the old standards. Where the new standards focus on deeper thinking and unique situations, the older state tests focused on facts and skills.

A common way to prepare teachers to teach the higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) required by the Common Core is to instruct them about the new standards and then leave them to themselves to figure out how to implement them. This is a flawed approach. Just learning what the standards are is not enough. My fear is that teachers have been so focused on skills and facts that they have not had the opportunity to teach HOT skills — and thus have no framework to prepare them for the shift that is coming.

Enter flipped learning.

By now, most educators have heard of flipped classrooms in which students watch informative videos at home and do their “homework” in class. But at its heart, flipped learning actually describes a longer-term, more deliberate process.

Of the thousands of educators who have flipped their classrooms, most spend about one year following the basic flipped model — let’s call it “Flipped Class 101.” All students watch the same video on Tuesday night and all do the same activity on Wednesday in class. But this model reflects only the first stage in the process. After the first year, teachers realize they can use the extra face-to-face class time to take their students deeper.

During the second year of flipping their classes, teachers start implementing what I call flipped learning. In this second iteration of the flipped class, teachers apply strategies like mastery learning, project-based learning, inquiry and other forms of deeper engagement — the skills that lie at the heart of the Common Core State Standards.

There are other ways to move a teacher from “content disseminator” to “deep learning expert,” but flipped learning provides a simple and elegant pedagogical methodology that is transforming the classrooms of thousands of teachers across the globe.

The diagram below illustrates the range of teacher preparation for the coming shift:

Flipped and common coreAll teachers lie somewhere on this continuum. 

The teachers on the right are already preparing to students to think and solve problems on their own. These are the “rock stars” who don’t necessarily need flipped learning. They have discovered how to teach deeper learning skills on their own, often in spite of the educational system.

The teachers on the left are those who primarily deliver content and practice skills with their students — the “old standards,” I call them.

I believe the vast majority of teachers lie further to the left on the diagram, and they need a simple process to help them reach deeper levels of learning. So how do we move teachers towards higher-order thinking and deeper learning strategies? One powerful way is to train them to flip their class and help them progress toward flipped learning.

Instead of conducting simplistic training on the Common Core, we should use the flipped class model to move teachers toward a more learner-centered, inquiry-driven classroom. Then they and their students will be more prepared for Common Core — and for wherever their educational journey takes them.

What Do You Think?

Do you, as a teacher, feel prepared for the Common Core? Do you see the flipped learning as a way to provoke your students to think deeply?

Discover how flipped learning can pave the way for Common Core implementation preorder your copy of Flipped Learning: Gateway to Student Engagement, the newest title from flipped learning pioneers Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams.

Jon Bergmann is a teacher, flipped learning pioneer, radio show host, educational change agent and co-author of Flip Your Classroom. Check out his blog at jonbergmann.com.

6 thoughts on “Flipped learning: Time to reconsider how to implement the Common Core

  1. It’s really great to hear you and Aaron talking about the “dark side of mastery” and that there needs to be more approaches employed to support our students in their personal version of mastery. PLP’s should play a big part in the future of ED. Wouldn’t it be nice as a teacher to pull up a plan that holds a child’s learning style, desires, interests, and some recent work samples at the beginning of the year? How long does it take any teacher to figures these this out two months? A Semester? Even with IEP’s it still takes me a semester to really know my students’ learning/ working/ failing/ success patterns. But I’m glad to have a base to start with and refer back to. Yer dead on with your diagram. If most teachers migrate right my job would be a whole lot more effective. Someday with PLP’s in place, teachers as DLExperts, video support, and multi modal interactive teaching there would be little need for SPED teachers except for the more severe cases. Which is what it was meant for, not as a catch all one and only safety net that it has become. Here’s to good incremental progress.

    • Jason, your vision of individualizing learning is great. I taught special education for 5 years, during which time our district was creating a curriculum based on Common Core. Groups of teachers spent endless hours creating and modifying as others reviewed what they had done. On one hand it was great that we were creating HOTS for the students to demonstrate their learning, but on the other many students began failing over those next few years and referrals for special education rose. I evaluated countless students who did not qualify which took valuable time from my current caseload.

      I understand what you are saying about SPED being a catch all (which is very frustrating as I mentioned above), but I do disagree slightly with the reduced need of special education teachers though. Instead, I think the role will slightly change. Special education teachers can become more valuable to gen ed teachers and free up time to work more collaboratively. Effective inclusion can occur with more success. We have a lot to offer administrators, general education teachers, and support staff.

      • Hi Joey,

        Thanks for your reply. Very insightful. Maybe instead of special Ed teachers we become differentiated instruction coaches, coteach with gen Ed teachers, and run RTI classes. That should catch most of the kids that I have served as RSP teacher. Only the more sever kids would need a special Ed case manager. I have run similar programs but never together in one school. That would truly be a supported student body.

        I’m sure somewhere there are schools like this. I hope.

  2. Another issue that has occurred with Common Core that has directly effected my wife and I is that our districts (we moved last year) have required teachers to create their own curriculum. While that certainly has some great benefits, it has been very time consuming and may have teachers spending too much time on creating the curriculum rather than developing engaging lessons. Over time this will obviously improve but in the mean time it is exhausting. My wife puts in over 12 hours a day and seems to work about 8 hrs or more each weekend as well. This could be partially due to her hard work ethic and the fact that she started at a new school this year after being at our old district for 5 years; however, she is hitting a breaking point with balancing common core woes and feeling confident in becoming a master teacher. She would love to flip her classroom and has talked about it for some time but has that awesome(not really) overwhelmingness that comes with teaching in a challenging teaching environment. Unfortunately, burnout is occurring at a faster rate than we had hoped.

  3. A few years ago I had the opportunity as a student to present to my state’s Board of Education. I spoke about the limitations of standardization on the ability to learn. I have read a few of your blog post on flipped learning and enjoy the view you have taken on learning. I have recently been speaking with a company that is trying to beef up the core as you are. Not to be spammy, but take a long at their blog site and let me know what you think. http://discoverysimulations.com/blog/

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