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Flipped learning at Ashhurst School

Tags: Flipped learning | Primary |

Principal, Heath Chittenden introduced the flipped learning model to Ashhurst School in 2016. This schoolwide approach to learning has focused teachers and improved student learning outcomes, particularly in boys writing. 

Purpose

The whole focus of our flipped learning is to reach every student, every lesson, every day.

The aim of flipped learning at Ashhurst School is for students to be active learners with agency over their learning. The school culture, curriculum approach, and philosophy for students learning is underpinned by the flipped model. 

Teachers develop videos and provide students with resources to develop the specific knowledge they need prior to a group session with the teacher, which focuses on applying that knowledge. Accessing the knowledge resources and being able to view them as many times as necessary gives students time to:

  • think about what they may have difficulty understanding
  • develop further questions.

Teachers spend more time focusing on engaging with students, meeting their specific needs, and supporting them to apply their learning. Rather than standing at the front of the class talking to students, teachers have rich one-on-one conversations with students. 

Successful flipped learning requires fostering productive relationships between students and teachers and keeping the process simple.

Flipped Learning Global Initiative

Ashhurst School Principal, Heath Chittenden speaks about the flipped learning global standards project and how they have created a standard so that flipped learning looks the same no matter where in the world you are based.

Implementing a flipped approach across the school

Ashhurst School is part of the Flipped Learning Global Initiative (FLGI). The FLGI supports the successful adoption and implementation of the flipped learning model around the world. They have defined a common framework for Flipped Learning training and practice and developed International Training Standards .

Flipped learning is really important to be a school-wide focus because it is a pedagogical change to how you approach teaching. It’s not something added into the classroom. It affects the way your school functions.

Principal, Heath Chittenden explains how they got teachers and parents prepared before rolling out flipped learning in their school. “Flipped learning is really important to be a school-wide focus because it actually is a pedagogical change to how you approach teaching.”

Teacher professional learning and development

Successful implementation of the flipped learning model requires:

  • an investment of time
  • mastery of the pedagogy and best practices of the flipped classroom
  • support from school leaders.
Developing skills and understanding

Technology is central to flipped learning

The first year focused on:

  1. developing a foundation of skills within the staff. Teachers planning had to be digital and online. Teachers developed confidence and skills in creating and uploading material for students to access.
  2. pedagogy – understanding what flipped learning is. All teachers at Ashhurst School completed the level 1 training modules from Flipped Global , within their teams. Some teachers have also completed the flipped level 2 certification training, increasing their level of understanding.
Putting learning into practice in the classroom

Schoolwide teachers began flipping one curriculum area. They began with writing because it was the highest area of need. While going through the training, teachers began experimenting. Once they became more confident about their approach and had their sites functional they were made accessible for students and parents and the amount of content began to increase.

The next step was flipping more curriculum areas. 

Reflecting and refining the approach

The school is now beginning the process of reviewing what they have provided and analysing whether it’s reflective of their current pedagogy. They are reviewing videos made at the beginning of the process and critically looking at whether the content is explicit enough.

Sustaining the flipped approach

Every new teacher to the school must complete the flip level 1 training before their first day of teaching. This ensures every staff member has a deep understanding of the pedagogical approach.

The videos made by teachers are categorised against the learning objectives and put on a Google site. Teachers can now view the learning objectives and see if there’s a video that’s appropriate, then put the link into their planning. For new staff arriving, this means they have the support of ready made material.

Principal, Heath Chittenden explains the importance of training all staff to use the flipped learning model and the resource bank of videos that is available to them to support building their lessons.

Engaging with parents and whānau

To introduce the flipped approach to the community initially, the school ran coffee clubs for parents on a Friday morning for two couple of terms. During these, the leadership team talked about technology and flipped learning with parents and whānau. The flipped approach was explained in the school newsletter. The reception from parents was positive.

Now the flipped approach is embedded within the school, it is explained to parents when they enrol their children. At parent interviews, teachers begin with the website and make sure parents know that it’s there and it’s accessible in multiple forums including a school app and the website.

In the classroom

Flipped learning is about maximising class time for deeper student engagement.

Teachers plan with specific learning goals that drive the method of delivery and learning activities.

Teachers, Sara and Emma, explain how they plan their lessons for a flipped classroom including how they make their instructional videos.

The teacher role

My role exists for learners within the learning process, rather than within the physical classroom.

Having flipped lessons running on videos enables teachers to "talk" to students when they need them. Teachers are no longer bound to a small group providing knowledge, they can focus more on supporting students to apply new learning concepts as they are needed, tailoring  teaching specifically to the gaps that they have in their understanding of the learning concept.

Teachers, Sara and Emma, talk about the biggest changes they have seen in their teaching since they started using flipped learning. “I think for me the biggest changes that it’s had are it’s more individually centred and it’s changed my position within the classroom.”

I’ve started to think less of myself as being the source of the initial knowledge, the only source of support for people who are struggling and now more as something exists beside them within the learning process. I think that’s, that’s changed the way that I teach. It’s changed the way that the kids move throughout the learning process as well.

– Sara Lambert, Year 3-4 teacher

Inclusion

The flipped learning process, within the classroom, is a very inclusive model. Teachers spend more time building relationships with the students. Teaching is personalised to meet the individual needs of students. Students can access and rewatch the videos as often as necessary. Students have choices for learning.

Students of differing abilities are supported – those who need additional support and those who need extension.

Characteristics of successful flipped classrooms

Relationship building

Positive teacher-student relationship improve student learning outcomes.

Personalised learning

In an ideal flipped learning environment, students have choices about how they learn. Students access the content by:

  • watching videos
  • read information from a text
  • using interactive simulations.
Passion-based learning

Flipping learning enables teachers to help students go deeper with the content as well as higher up the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy . By shifting the "remembering" and "understanding" tasks from the group to the individual, flipped learning gives teachers the opportunity to find ways to engage students and allow them the flexibility to explore things they find interesting. 

Project-based learning

Flipped learning has an emphasis on maximising class time. Project-based learning engages students by allowing them to solve real-world problems. This engagement and immersion helps them gain deeper understandings.

Using video as an instructional resource enables delivery of content while creating time to engage students in hands-on projects. Teachers can use video within the context of each project to provide instruction as students need it.

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Outcomes for students

Students are moving through their learning more quickly because they have a teacher to interact with when they encounter difficulties with their learning right there and then. Teachers have a much richer discourse with students during the learning process using a just in time approach.

Teacher, Emma, talks about the independence children gain and how she gets more one-on-one time with students by using the flipped approach. One student shares how she uses the class site to share work with her parents.

Students are able to access learning where and when they need it. They regularly share their learning with their parents. Students comment on the flexibility and autonomy the flipped approach provides them. 

Staff from Ashhurst School talk about where they have seen achievement levels rise in their school and how they think flipped learning has attributed to that.

At Ashhurst School, 2016 writing data showed 61% of boys achieving at or above their expected level. In 2018, 72% of boys are achieving at or above their expected level. 

The rich student engagement and the learning conversations are resulting in a measurable difference. Teachers see this as an incentive to continue to reflect on and adjust their practice within the flipped model.

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