Reverse Instruction

Reverse instruction is an interesting concept and one that greatly appeals to me.  With this instructional method teachers assign videos, articles and other materials for the students to view for homework.  The aim being that students receive the traditional technical teaching at home which allows for more time for deeper engagement with the content in school (link).  Some examples of sites that can be used to promote this style of teaching are Khan AcademyTED-Ed, and BrainPop.

Flipping a unit on measurement could leave more time for interesting creative projects that enable students to demonstrate critical thinking skills.

As I reflect on the topics my class has covered this  year, I can easily think of several examples of where I could see this style of teaching working. Recently my students have been working on measurement and I immediately thought that the next time I teach this unit, I should try reverse instruction.  At home I could have the students watch videos and learn the basics of measurement (unit conversion, selecting an appropriate unit of measure, how to use measurement tools properly).  All of these basic ideas take time to teach students and if I could do it through technology at home, that would leave me more room in class to develop projects and tasks that allow the students to engage with the topic on a deeper level and to demonstrate critical thinking.  Such projects could include having the students create blueprints and models.

Like any teaching method the idea of reverse instruction or flipping a classroom should not be taken lightly and requires much advanced planning.  There are two major questions that teachers should answer before using this method:

  1. Instruction models do not work with every student.  Reverse instruction requires students take responsibility for their own learning and understanding of various concepts because the initial teaching is done at home.  Not all students will succeed with this style of teaching and it is important that we remember our job is to educate everyone and not only a few.  How do we best accommodate students who do not suit this style of learning?
  2. If students are receiving the instruction at home, then what is being done in class?  Does class time become a review of the homework or is it an opportunity to explore the topics further?

Video Credits:

The Flipped Classroom is Hot, Hot, Hot: 15 Recent News Stories found on YouTube, uploaded by EmergingEdTech

Image Credits:

A Blurry Sense of Magnitude by ZeRo’SKiLL, found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed



Filed under COETAIL, Course 4

6 responses to “Reverse Instruction

  1. Hey Brendan,
    Thanks for your post. Yes, the idea of a flipped classroom is intriguing to me, particularly in lower elementary. Is it feasible? Would it work? I suppose implementing the flipped classroom, having some tasks attended to at home could work, but certainly not a complete “flip” in lower elementary as parents are just too busy to be able to make sure/help students to understand/get logged in at home.

    I never considered the idea of using brainpop/brainpop jr. in a flipped classroom model, it has been something I have used as a valuable in-class tool. But you are totally right, it would work in a flipped classroom and the greater number of topics they continue to cover only makes me believe it will be a viable tool for flipped classrooms in the future. Do you think you will ever incorporate aspects into your teaching?

    • Thank you for you comment David. After looking through the curriculum for next year I aim to flip a few topics next year. I will certainly let you know how it works works. Aside from using the BrainPop videos I hope to create some of my own videos. Recently I have been toying with the idea of creating my own iMovie trailer as a provocation for some of my units next year with the aim of placing them on YouTube. As the forum is public I could use the video as a way to advertise the class web-site with the hope of getting more people to respond and interact with what the class is doing.

  2. Hi Brendan,

    I really like the idea of the reverse/flipped classroom. For me I view it as a valid way of teaching students. You are right when you say that this may not work for every learner and each student will need to take more responsibility for their learning. However, I see reverse/flipped classroom as a great way of maximizing the time my students are creating, sharing and talking about art. Instead of watching me demonstrate certain techniques, it would be so much easier to watch a video of it and then come into class and have the full 60 minutes to work. It may not work for every project, but I think it could be very successful on some of my larger art activities.

    Trying out new ideas such as this in the classroom is a way of moving forward, for myself and my students. I think as we (Coetail) have discussed in the past; we just can’t be afraid to try new ideas. Some things may work and others may not. However, every time we try we will learn and so will our students. All of us will learn from our mistakes, make the necessary adjustments and move on.

    • I agree fear is never a reason not to do something. I will try flipping my classroom as I think the idea holds great potential. However, I will be cautious and do my best to make sure that I meet everyone’s learning needs.

  3. A couple of insights from some of the schools that have been actively implementing the Flipped Classroom model:

    – Students prefer the instructional tool to be created by the teacher. This demonstrates that the teacher knows what they’re learning, cares about their students, and reflects their personality – ie creates a continuum of what’s happening in class, at home.

    – Materials created do not have to be perfect. Students see us make little mistakes in class all the time, and these are learning opportunities, just because this is a more “permanent” version of what you would teach in class, doesn’t mean it has to be perfect. As long as they don’t completely detract from the content, leave your errors and keep on recording.

    – Materials to be viewed at home should be no more than 5 – 10 minutes long and should be very concrete so they can be applied immediately the next day through practical activities.

    As I mentioned in class, I’m still not 100% sold on this model of instruction, but hearing these three key points really helps me see it as a viable model. I wouldn’t want every class to be delivered in this way (because I still see it as very teacher-centered and content-heavy), but I can see more opportunities for implementing this learning strategy than I could when I first heard about it. Of coure I’ll be interested to hear how it goes with you!

  4. Brendan,

    Thoughtful blog post.
    As David mentioned, I never thought of using Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr for flipped classroom. Kids seemed to like those videos, and I could give them recommendations for guidance classes. Where I struggle is, what happens if a student doesn’t come prepared? I guess I need to be prepared for many different scenarios when using flipped classroom, thus maximizing differentiated instruction. (one of the benefits of integrating technology)

    I look forward to learning more about how you will use flipped classroom with elementary school students next year. Keep us posted!

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