In order for the flipped classroom approach to be effective within an elementary school setting, teachers need to first consider the best flipped classroom activities to utilize for particular lessons. After all, younger children may need a greater level of support to help them understand new information, while schools also need to contend with the digital divide and the reality that some students have better access to technology than others.
Keep reading for five of the best activities to utilize within a flipped elementary school classroom or visit the ViewSonic Education page for further insights into teaching with technology.
The flipped classroom model works by reversing the conventional approach to teaching, with students being introduced to new material prior to a lesson, allowing classroom time to be used for flipped classroom activities that help to enhance understanding. This then facilitates more active learning opportunities, as well as more ‘ hands-on’ teaching.
At the elementary school level, however, there are some adjustments that will need to be made. For instance, any video content or reading material kids are expected to consume at home will need to be comparatively shorter than the type of content given to high school or university students. Moreover, the proceeding classroom activities will need to be chosen carefully too.
Nevertheless, when the right flipped classroom activities are selected and utilized, this approach can be just as effective with younger children as it is in older age groups. In this article, we examine five effective activities to put into practice during lessons for elementary school students get the most out of this approach to education.
1. Collaborative Active Learning
One of the most important concepts for teaching elementary school students is the idea of active learning, where students are engaged in the learning process, rather than being passive consumers of information. By its very nature, the flipped classroom approach attempts to embrace this, and collaborative active learning activities can help.
The precise activities that the teacher selects will depend somewhat on the topic that is being taught. However, the common features should include students being placed into groups, where they work together to apply the information they learned individually. This could mean problem-solving activities, practical work, experiments, etc.
By introducing a collaborative element to the classroom, students are simultaneously able to develop their teamwork and communication skills. Furthermore, the students can help further their understanding of the topic by sharing ideas, challenging one another, and discussing their thoughts with their teacher.
While flipped classroom approaches can be extremely beneficial, getting the right combination of online and offline activities is important. This is a key feature of blended learning, and if students are going to be exposed to new information online, they need offline methods of furthering that understanding as well.
Simple think-pair-share activities can be ideal for this within classroom settings because they combine both independent and collaborative learning. Here, students are asked to sit individually and think about the material they have learned. From there, they are then asked to pair up with another student in the class.
Once in their pairs, the students will then discuss their ideas together and then ultimately share their thoughts with the whole class. Explaining concepts to another student can help them better understand the material while sharing it with the class provides a great opportunity for the teacher to ask further questions.
3. Whole Class Discussions
When the topics being introduced to students at home are slightly more complex, and the teacher needs to know that the concepts have been understood, sometimes it is best to spend the lesson time having a whole-class discussion. Within this broad framework, there are a number of different options, from informal discussions to brainstorming.
The main focus here is to get students to talk about the topic at hand and reveal what they have understood and where their understanding may be limited. There may also be topics where students hearing different viewpoints can help them think about the information more comprehensively, furthering their understanding.
For teachers, an important priority here is to make sure everyone is participating in the discussion. With elementary school students, as opposed to high school students, it may also be best to keep discussions relatively short to avoid problems with shorter attention spans, resulting in important content being missed.
4. Quizzes and Other Games
Elementary school students learn best when they are having fun, so it can be beneficial to try to introduce games into the classroom. In particular, class quizzes can be a useful way for teachers to get a sense of where students are with their understanding, while also making sure the lesson itself is as engaging as possible.
A variety of free online resources are available, including the excellent ClassTools.net, to assist teachers with the creation of enjoyable quiz content. The precise format of the quiz can be adjusted to suit the needs of the lesson, but it may be a good idea to break the class into teams to avoid singling out the students who are lagging behind.
Of course, teachers should not feel limited to the quiz format if they come up with other ideas for games that can help further understanding. The concept of gamification within education is well-established, and there are a number of different ways to gamify a classroom, from introducing collectibles to playing party games.
5. The ‘In-Flip’ or Faux Flip
One of the biggest criticisms of the flipped classroom model – and a criticism that is especially relevant with elementary school students – is related to the concept of the digital divide that exists between those who have regular access to a computer with high-quality internet, and those who do not have such access within their home.
A great way for elementary school teachers to combat this is through the faux flipped classroom approach, otherwise known as the ‘in-flip’. Here, the same basic approach exists, with students being introduced to material online, but this initial learning takes place within the classroom, at the beginning of the lesson.
As an article for Edutopia explains, depending on computer availability, it may be necessary to divide the class into two groups, with one group using computers while the other group works independently on something else, before they switch over. Once students have finished, any of the other four activities listed can be carried out.
The flipped classroom model can be applied within elementary schools with great success, but it is important for teachers to consider the specific flipped classroom activities they rely on during lessons. In particular, there needs to be plenty of opportunities for one-to-one interactions, especially if students are struggling with new concepts.
Moreover, it is important that steps are taken to address the digital divide. Not all students will have regular access to a computer with a reliable internet connection, and so adaptation may be required to ensure no students are left behind. The faux flipped classroom, or ‘in-flip’, is a great way to guard against this particular issue.
Nevertheless, activities like think-pair-share and group work can help to make lessons more enjoyable and will allow children to either put the information they have acquired into practice or better understand its relevance.
If you’re new to the concept of the flipped classroom model, you may also be interested in our previous article where we look at the many benefits of the flipped classroom. You can also find a number of other insights and EdTech solutions to better learning by visiting the ViewSonic Education page.