Differentiating in flipped classrooms
Posted February 25, 2014on:
by Ken Whytock
One thing an educator can do with a flipped classroom is to differentiate for learning. After all, the point of flipping is to focus on the learner and learning.
Why differentiate? For the simple reason that no two learners are exactly alike. The ideal would be to individualize, but this can be difficult with large classes. The compromise is to cluster students into relatively homogenous groups based on abilities, preferences, or some other relevant trait. (There is also room for heterogenous groups, but that is another story.)
Another reason for differentiating is to provide choice. If flipped learning is to nurture self-directed and ultimately independent learners, then they must be given choices on how they learn. (With curricular constraints, it might not be realistic to provide indefinite choices on what they learn.)
What choices can educators provide learners?
There is the choice of content. By this I mean the medium the content is on (e.g., books, websites, videos, simulations, games, the teacher as source) as well as the selection of topic or level or topic (e.g., remedial, beginner, intermediate, advanced).
The task is also something that can be chosen. The deliverable might be done in class, online only, or both. It might be written, drawn, spoken, or otherwise performed. The learning strategies are just as rich: Collaborative projects, individual exploration, group inquiry, etc.
Depending on the content and task, the assessment would also vary but match the content and task. Something that is performance-based (e.g., a speech) should not be force fit and assessed only as a written assignment.
There is a variety of assessment options: rubrics, e-portfolios (evidence-based, focusing on processes and products), checklists, teacher observations, quizzes, peer feedback, and so on.
If flipping is compared to food preparation, then differentiating is a buffet that provides healthy choices for all patrons. Whatever the choices, there should be staples in the buffet that the patrons must partake. They should all have some individual work and group work. They should all learn to reflect critically and self-evaluate.
Ultimately, the learner should address these questions:
- What did I learn?
- How did I learn it?
- Why is it important?
- What evidence do I have for learning?