WE Lab Classrooms is an opportunity to engage critically with research, trial a new approach in your classroom and reflect on which teaching and learning strategies are the most effective for your learners. Each Lab Classrooms strand is ‘two for one’ – improving both learners’ knowledge and wider skills, such as teamwork and communication.
Jessica Shailer is a Year 1 Class Teacher at St. John Vianney Catholic Primary School and she shares her experience of increasing retention, knowledge and understanding with flipped learning.
When I was first approached about participating in the Lab Classrooms flipped learning strand, I was quite nervous. It wasn’t something I’d heard of before and I didn’t understand how it could work in my classroom, especially as we were going into a national lockdown where I would only have 11 children in the classroom on a daily basis!
This made it difficult to decide how to begin implementing flipped learning. I initially considered embedding it with just the key worker children, but felt that most benefit would come from using flipped learning with the whole class. I was also worried that, because the children had missed such a vital part of their Reception year, it’d be difficult to ask them to begin completing tasks independently so early in the year. Lastly, I was also skeptical about how 5-6 year olds would complete tasks independently when they were still so reliant on adults to help them with their work.
Ultimately, we decided to implement flipped learning with Humanities within my whole class and used it to look at some of the learning objectives and key vocabulary the children would need. As a school, we’d decided that we wanted to use the approach to increase retention, knowledge and understanding of a topic. These decisions informed which videos would be used to help the children succeed at understanding the learning objectives.
The impact on the learners has been fantastic.
I am so glad that I persevered with the course and changed the original plan of only using 11 children to using the whole class. Doing this gave me more adequate research and enabled me to have confidence that flipped learning would work across all year groups.
The children within my classroom that were not as comfortable or forward as some of the higher achieving children were given a chance to be involved within the group discussion after watching the video and completing the task at home.
We found that the vocabulary being used within group discussions was of a high standard and the children were able to understand what words were being used because they had been given the definitions before the lesson.
Children that may have had help with tasks in previous lessons were able to complete the in-class tasks independently, which enabled the staff within the classroom to focus their attention on others that might need extra help or those that were unable to watch the videos for any reason.
Overall, we found that the children’s knowledge of the topic demonstrated their understanding to the point where we were able to complete more practical lessons because the learning objectives had been achieved.
Here is what some of the children had to say about flipped learning:
“I really enjoyed moving the text on SeeSaw and completing the other activities. I think that Flipped Learning help me with my learning because the videos helped me understand what my teacher was talking about in the lesson the next day. I only had a little bit of help with the Flipped Learning at home.” – Luke
“I really liked watching the videos at home and they helped me learn about fossils. I did my work by myself.” – Nancy
“I liked how we learnt about paleontologists and I enjoyed matching the words to the meanings. When I watched the video I wasn’t sure how dinosaurs were extinct or what extinct meant but the video helped me after I watched it again.” – Holly
Parents also had positive feedback about the new approach:
“We really enjoyed watching the videos. Our favourite was learning about Mary Anning. My child took it all in and was able to complete the activities by herself. As a parent I found the videos and activities to be well planned and taught my child a lot about the specific topic.”
“I love that my child is able to watch the videos and complete the work independently.”
“My child said that he enjoyed the Flipped Learning assignments and that it helped him understand the topic of the lesson. I think that the activities took just the right amount of time.”
“I think the activity and video set were pitched right for my child. He enjoyed watching the video and learning about the topic. When I asked my son if everyone had watched the video, he said no and because he had, he was made into a group leader in the class activity. I got the feeling he really enjoyed this. We only saw the activity by chance as we were practicing his spellings.”
Lastly, staff were also really pleased with how flipped learning worked:
“I feel that flipped learning has been a brilliant way to enhance the children’s learning experience. They have knowledge of the topic before they enter the classroom which gives them the confidence to participate in the class discussion, even those who would not usually put their hand up to answer questions. It is also extremely beneficial for children who need more time to process information.” – Mrs Ryan, Teaching Assistant
If you’re interested in how Jessica structured tasks for flipped learning, you can find some examples here.