Flipped and Fun Learning in the Elementary Classroom


The Flipped Classroom

Telling doesn’t work very well. Doing is the secret. (Case studies and the Flipped Classroom)

With the advent of new technologies making it easier for educators to produce quality educational videos, came the idea that teachers no longer needed to use class time to deliver content, but could give students access to their lectures via videos or podcasts, freeing up time in class for students to work on work on collaborative projects, research and collaborate with peers, tackle solutions to real world problems, and perform lab experiments. In 2007, Woodland Park High chemistry teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, were some of the first teachers to experiment with flipped learning. They recorded their lectures on video so their students could watch the content for homework and used class time to work on labs and projects. Here are some advantages and limitations to the flipped model.


  • Student-centered learning
  • Allows for more class time to explore topics in greater depth
  • Content delivery can take place in multiple forms (video, podcast, online discussion, etc)
  • More personal teacher-student interaction
  • More peer-to-peer interactions and collaboration


  • Not all students may have access to necessary technologies at home
  • Students who struggle with taking responsibility in a self-directed learning environment might fall behind
  • Parents might not want their child using the computer for prolonged periods of time
  • A lecture is still a lecture
  • The teacher might not have the time and skills to create high quality videos

Regardless, of these challenges many educators are finding success using the flipped model in their classroom.

This week I wondered how flipped learning looks in the elementary classroom. I, again, ran across Jon Bergmann writing about  Five Reasons Why Elementary Teachers Should Flip Math First. He suggests that in the elementary classroom, the easiest and most practical way for teachers to experiment with the flipped model is to start by flipping just one lesson. It can be a lesson that many struggle to get the first time. Once this lesson is recorded, it can be shared with students so that they can access it any time.

Another educator, 4th grade teacher Sally Osborne from Teaching Redefined (see her YouTube channel for many great examples) gives some great tips that will help me as I think through if, how and when I should try this in third grade:

  • Decide where you will get your videos. You can make your own video with a screencasting app like Doceri or Explain Everything or use videos that are already online (You tube, Khan Academy)
  • Decide how students will watch the videos. Will they watch at home or in class?
  • Post videos as a resource on a class site for easy access.
  • Hold kids accountable by using something like PlayPosit to have students pause and answer questions.
  • Supplement with guided instruction.

Jennifer Gonzalez in this Edutopia article suggests trying the “in-class” flip with younger students. Instead of expecting younger students to watch videos at home, the teacher can produce screencasts of difficult lessons and have them available at stations or for parents to access on the class website.

Here is one lesson I quickly made about number bonds using Explain Everything on my iPad and PlayPosit. PlayPosit allows for the teacher to embed questions throughout the video to check for understanding.

Another great idea comes from this podcast. Some teachers are even flipping their Back-to-School Night Presentations and sending them to parents ahead of the evening so that they can spend most of the evening connecting with the parents in a less formal setting. I really want to try that. 


Games have always been a part of the elementary classroom, however “gamification” was a new idea for me and my mind was spinning after all the readings. I look forward to thinking more about how student learning can be improved or enhanced in my classroom through gamifying my lessons, but for now I’ll leave you with this very inspiring video by Jane McGonigal. I love so much of what she is trying to do.

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