“You haven’t done the reading!” How to avoid Flipped Learning Flops

Let me start by saying that I’m not really sure why it is called ‘Flipped Learning’. At the end of the day the learning has not been flipped because the students should have always been doing the learning. What has been flipped is the working roles, by which I mean who is doing all the work: student or teacher?

With flipped learning you are placing the responsibility for learning the material onto the students, rather than the pressure being on the teacher to cover the material (and teach the content, set activities, engage all students, differentiate over abilities, ask a variety of different questions and assess that learning has actually taken place …not to mention all this with new linear specifications and intense content coverage.)

So why use Flipped Learning?

I’m not a big fan of copying the ‘buzz’ activity that is dragged out by all teachers excitedly because they think somehow it will miraculously engage even the most disinterested students (remember when every teacher was using mini whiteboards!?!) Why? Because students are rarely impressed! So you would imagine that flipped learning would have the same effect on me, since we are bombarded with books, studies and inspirational speakers all promoting the value of flipped learning. Yet flipped learning just seems different….

Flipped Learning:

  • Develops skills of independent reading necessary for university
  • Places ownership onto the students to do the work
  • Saves time in lessons to cover activities, such as key assessment skills, which are essentially teacher lead or require heavy teacher involvement.

How to establish a Flipped Learning environment?

With any new activity you need to be aware how it is presented to students. You cannot just add it into your lesson plan and expect it to work.

  1. You need to explain to your students why you are doing this activity, how it benefits them and their learning, drawing upon the bullet points above. Students have to understand the importance and relevance of the flipped learning activity in order to be motivated to do it.
  2. Introduce flipped learning early on in the school year. You cannot bring this in around revision time and expect it to work. This activity needs to be introduced early to build the skills properly.
  3. Start easy. Avoid giving your students a really hard piece of text or a really bland piece of reading as they will associate flipped learning with negative feelings. Start easy and build in the challenge and complexity as the students develop their skills.

How to assess that Flipped Learning has taken place?

One activity that works really well (and takes very little time to prepare) are word cards. Basically you pick out the key words/ themes from the reading, type them up onto an A4 sheet, print them onto coloured card and cut them out.

Each pair then gets a set of cards  and the students have to take it in turns to pick out a card and explain the meaning of the word or theme. If they cannot their partner has a chance to steal the card. The winner is the student in the pair with the most cards.

One activity to ensure all students do the reading:

This is the biggest risk/ worry of using flipped leanring in class…that students don’t do it! Or worse some students do it really well and others thiugi4i.jpgnk they can get away with it. So the challenge is to test they have done it, check their understanding and enforce a consequence if they don’t. The above activity easily aids the test and check but a possible consequence (that I have picked up from another department, which I thankfully did not have to use this time) is to request that the guilty party is responsible next time to set the class a test from the reading. This means they not only have to do the reading but then create a test (set of questions) that the class must then answer.

I will keep you posted on whether I find this punishment works as I have not had a guilty party yet!


I have come across two further activities that can be used to enhance Flipped Learning:

  1. Teach Me, Tell Me cards – give each student a coloured piece of card (cut a piece of A4 into 4 sections) to add a question and answer and a more challenging question with answer from the reading . These cards are then brought to the next lesson. Within the lesson students move around the room, firstly asking their own question then swopping cards with their partner and continuing around the room. This way the students ill be asking lots of different questions and thus finding out the different answer.  If students don’t know the answer, their partner has to teach them (the answer is also on the card to help them)
  2. Find Someone Who table – worksheet with boxes. Each box has a question (linked with the Flipped Learning reading) and at the bottom of the box it says Name. Students have to ask the questions by moving around the classroom and fill in the answers. They need a different name in each box, so that they do not just ask the same student for all the answers. As a class the teacher can then use this to scaffold questioning and even do a bit of pose, pause, pounce, bounce – pick a student, bounce to another to extend answers.


One thought on ““You haven’t done the reading!” How to avoid Flipped Learning Flops

  1. Catherine Herring

    This is a great resource – much better than getting them to watch videos. After all reading is the skill they need most in this subject and it is easy to do. I look forward to using it.
    Thank you!

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