teacher with student

4 Ways to Flip Your Classroom

Empowering students to take the lead.


For teachers struggling to connect with their students, the solution might be flipping your classroom.

In a flipped classroom, students familiarize themselves with new materials outside of class via videos, and then use classroom time for activities that reinforce that material or involve higher order thinking.

Popularized during the pandemic-forced shift to virtual learning, flipped classrooms predate 2020 by a decade. This hands-on approach to learning that prioritizes collaboration keeps coming up because research continues to validate it.

“Students only retain 10% of what they hear, but their retention when they’re ‘doing’ is something more like 80%,” said Franca Fiorentino, an instructor with NYSUT’s Education and Learning Trust instructor and a member of the Bellmore Merrick United Secondary Teachers. In her ELT course, “Master the Flip and Beyond,” Fiorentino explains how structuring teaching in this way also allows more time for student differentiation and ensures that students have time to ask questions about their work in class.

Flipping classrooms can also refresh teachers because it empowers students to take the lead. Fiorentino saw this in her own classroom, where students were walking in knowing exactly what they need to know, and exactly what they need to do next. “They were revived. And if the kids are revived, the teachers will be, too,” she said.

But flipping the class doesn’t have to be all at once, and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Here are four different ways to consider incorporating a flipped model into your classroom:

1 - Flipped classrooms.

In flipped classrooms, teachers send students home with videos containing new materials, and spend classroom time working in small groups on learning activities about those materials. In other words, the teaching is done at home and the homework is done together, in school. To implement, teachers must record video lectures or gather video materials together for at-home instruction and map out hands-on activities for each lesson, which some say requires more up-front preparation.

2 - Partial flips.

In partially flipped classrooms, teachers can choose specific chapters of the textbook as the basis for at-home video instruction. Often, this is content they know so well that they can go on autopilot. Or teachers can select recurring portions of the chapters to flip, like grammar or vocabulary, said Fiorentino. Then, teachers can use the class time they’ve freed up to apply that material to real-life scenarios, host discussions, or find activities that involve collaboration and higher-order thinking.

3 - In-flipped classrooms.

With in-flipped classrooms, the teacher will break the class into smaller groups which rotate through various stations. One station is typically the video instruction, one station the group instruction with teacher where students can ask questions about the new materials and one station is collaborative activities where students can work together on assignments that reinforce their understanding of the materials.

4 - Mastery flips.

In mastery flips, students get videos containing new materials and work at their own pace with smaller base groups. They spend class time working on interactive group assignments that reinforce their learning. Students are given a great deal of flexibility when it comes to assignments; they can choose from skits or presentations. They can even make their own videos. The goal is for students to find a way to connect with the materials, Fiorentino said. Students can only move onto the next material once they can demonstrate that they have mastered the content in a unit, either through the in-class assignment or a short quiz.

ELT coursework is offered year-round and can be used for undergraduate, graduate and in-service credit as well as to fulfill Continuing Teacher and Leader Education requirements. For more information, go to elt.nysut.org.