6 easy ways to start flipping your classroom now

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Monday, January 18, 2016

6 easy ways to start flipping your classroom now

Flipping your classroom frees you up to work more directly with students in class. Here are some practical ways to make flipped learning happen. (Creative Commons image via CalicoSpanish.com)

Flipping your classroom frees you up to work more directly with students in class. Here are some practical ways to make flipped learning happen. (Creative Commons image via CalicoSpanish.com)

Flipped classroom is definitely a buzzword in education. It has been for years. And rightfully so — the model leverages technology to create an environment that can make a huge difference in many classrooms.

Some people see the flipped classroom as something complex or hard to reach. With a little direction and some determination to stick to the model, it’s as easy to do as almost anything tech-related in education.

Here’s the gist of the flipped classroom:

  • Instead of delivering instruction face-to-face in a classroom, teachers deliver instruction to students at home.
  • Home instruction is often in the form of video (teacher-created or otherwise), but can be through other means (i.e. audio, screenshots/instructions, etc.).
  • Students observe the instruction before returning to class the next day.
  • Instead of watching/listening to instruction, students work with the new material in class. The teacher is free to help students one-on-one or in small groups.

Flipped classroom purists might quibble with certain details, but that’s the model in a nutshell. You can read more here: “7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms” (via Educause).

This topic was brought back to my mind when a teacher in my home state of Indiana emailed me. She said she’s being asked to teach two classes at the same time. She’s surviving, thanks to Google Classroom and plenty of hustle, but was looking for suggestions.

For the flipped learning beginner, there are two important parts to put in place: delivering the instruction and assessing student understanding of the instruction. Here are some suggestions for both:


The method: screencasting. My favorite way to deliver instruction to students outside of class is still the screencast. Students hear your voice. You explain it in your own words at your own pace. Students sort of feel like you’re right there with them, walking them through the new content.

And, in the end, that’s what so many students want — they want you. You’re the one they have the relationship with. You’re the one they have experience learning this topic from. They don’t want you to find a YouTube video of someone they don’t know. They really want you. If you want to deliver videos to students, give them videos of you if possible. They’ll likely thank you for it.

My favorite tool: Snagit. I use a Windows laptop to do most of my creation, so Snagit for Google Chrome is my go-to tool for screencasts. As a Chrome extension, it’s free. (The full version, which lets you screencast from anywhere in your computer and not just in your Chrome browser, is awesome. I have it and love it. With the educator discount, this $49.95 product only costs $29.95.)

Snagit creates a little blue “S” button in the top right corner of your Chrome browser. Click it, then click the video button to record your screen. Choose the screen display you want and you’re already recording.

The beauty of using Snagit for Chrome is this: when you’re finished, your videos are automatically saved into your Google Drive. They live in a new folder called “TechSmith.” Open the file (or right-click it) and click “Share” to get a link to your video that you can share with your students. (Share that link with your students using one of these 10 methods.)

It’s that easy.

Other screencasting options:

Do you use something different for screencasting? If so, please share it in the comments below!

Instruction methods other than screencasting:

  • Audio: If you’d rather not mess with video, you can just record your voice. My favorite tool for that is AudioBoom. It’s kind of like YouTube for audio. You create your own channel and then record off your device or upload an audio file.
  • Website: If you’d rather just use text and visuals, create a webpage for students to check out. My favorite free website creator is Weebly. Google Sites is a good option as well.


Want to make sure that your students actually watched the videos? Flipped classroom teachers have many ways of handling this. Some will just have students who didn’t watch the videos at home just watch them at school while everyone else participates in a fun activity with the content. Missing that activity is enough encouragement to them to watch the videos beforehand, according to those teachers.

I, however, like the idea of doing a quick assessment after the video to let students show me that they understand. There are some great options out there, including:

Google Forms (within drive.google.com): Create a simple Google Form with some questions to check for understanding. If you make multiple-choice, matching (made from choose-from-a-list questions) or true-false questions, the Flubaroo add-on will autograde them for you. Just bring up the spreadsheet of results created by the form and follow the instructions on the Flubaroo website. (Even if you don’t use Flubaroo, a cursory glance at student answers in that spreadsheet will show you if a student didn’t comprehend the new content. Plus, by clicking “responses” within the Google Form, it will show you charts of student responses, making visual interpretation of the results easy.)

Quizizz (quizizz.com): This site turns homework into a game show, and it can make flipped class assessment pretty easy. You’ll want to use homework mode, where you can make an assignment live for up to 15 days. Students enter a code to join the activity and answer questions based on your instruction. It creates a leaderboard you can display later. Plus, its fun “you’re right”/”you’re wrong” memes keep you going!

Formative (goformative.com): My excitement for this tool keeps bubbling over. I recently wrote about 20 ways you can use Formative in your class. Create an assessment using Formative with some questions about your instruction. In addition your standard question types, Formative also includes “show your work” questions where students can draw their answers. If your instruction video is on YouTube, you can add it to your Formative assessment. Keep everything in one location for simplicity!

So, there you have it … six easy ways to start flipping your classroom now:

  1. Screencast with Snagit
  2. Broadcast audio with AudioBoom
  3. Create a website with Weebly/Google Sites
  4. Assess with Google Forms
  5. Create an assignment with Quizziz
  6. Make an assessment with Formative

With some ways to deliver instruction at home and some ways to assess student understanding afterward, you’re well on your way to becoming a flipped classroom master!

[reminder]What do you do to make flipped learning work in your classroom? Do you have different tools to suggest?[/reminder]

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  • Sarah Dugger says:

    Loom is my go to video screencast add on now. Love it!

  • Barb says:

    I use Explain Everything. It’s a whiteboard app for iPads. I teach math and can do examples and talk without my kids seeing me.

  • Matt, I always love your posts! Part of my summer will focus on flipping the word origin section of our vocabulary instruction. I’m hoping to use a combination of EdPuzzle and Screencastify. Just FYI, word on the edtech street is that Snagit will soon be no more. I’ve loved Screencastify as my go to screencast tool, but I thought you might want to know this news about Snagit. Best wishes for a productive summer!

  • Mark Johannes says:

    On a Mac, you can use quicktime to for screen and audio recordings! Works great!

  • Torsten says:

    Since I prefer handwriting in my videos, I use ExplainEverything on my ipad. Never tried Educreation, maybe this App is as good as ExplainEverything.

    Tools and apps aside, the most important question is, how to create a video which not only delivers some information and knowledge, but also makes students think about the content.

    I always ask questions in the videos and direct students to pause ans think. Any other ideas how to create a good video?

    • Barb says:

      I don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard Educannon is good for this. You can insert questions that students must answer, and then you can see who has answered them & if they’ve grasped the concept presented.

  • Angela Stoczynski says:

    Sounds great… but I’m curious what to do if students don’t have internet connection at home, don’t have devices on which to watch/listen at home, or simply do not have time one night due to other activities or something comes up?

    • Matt Miller says:

      Great question, Angela.

      I’ve always looked for times and places where they could do it at school (i.e. when the media center is open, before/after school, during a study hall/homeroom/etc.). I also like to help students find places that do have Internet access in their communities (i.e. libraries, restaurants/coffee shops with free WiFi, etc.). If the video is in your Google Drive, students should be able to download the video to their devices for offline watching. Regarding not having time or something coming up, I would just handle that like any other incomplete homework assignment. I’d try to find a way for the student to get it done and make a judgment call (i.e. Is it worth it to have him/her watch it during class to get caught up? Is there another time I can get him/her in here to watch it?).

      I’d love to see other people’s ideas on this as well …

  • Kathy Z. says:

    Interesting post, as usual!

    I can see this working reasonably well (though not necessarily perfectly) in schools that are 1:1 or in affluent districts where each student has access to a working computer (or other device) and the internet on a regular basis. Your suggestion of having students who didn’t watch the instruction the night before watch in the classroom the next day (while others do a fun activity) is good if you have those computers readily available in your classroom, but it sounds like you could still be using a lot of time to get everyone caught up. What ideas/thoughts do you have for those situations?

    At the risk of sounding like an old codger, there are teachers would point out that we have, in a way, had non-technological versions of “flipped classrooms” for ages. Witness the often-heard “Read chapters 4 and 5 of [great American or British novel] tonight, come up with a prediction and a question, and be ready to discuss the reading tomorrow”.

    My sympathy to your friend who is teaching two classes simultaneously. I hope it was the result of an accident or oversight and that she will not have to do it again. I might point out that this is sometimes done DELIBERATELY in foreign language teaching, when two classes are scheduled at the same time in the same room (e.g. Spanish 3 and Spanish 4, French 4 and AP). It’s true that using technology for one class while (live) instructing the other is a good idea (absent the issues raised above, of course).

    • Matt Miller says:

      Hi Kathy! Great comments, and you’re right about the “no-tech flipped classroom”. That’s been around forever! One benefit of today’s digital version is that the student can take your instruction home with him/her, rewind, rewatch, take it at his/her own speed, etc.

      Getting everyone caught up … I think it’s like any new initiative in the classroom in that it sometimes takes everyone some time to figure out how it’s going to work. Kids figure out how they’re going to work with/deal with/make the most of this new feature of class in their own way. Once it becomes habit after a few weeks, kids just realize that it’s part of class and it’s not going away. (That is, assuming that you decide in that time that it’s worthwhile and beneficial for the kids and you and the class!)

  • Betsy says:

    Great post, thank you! You ask the question of “Want to make sure that your students actually watched the videos?” and then offer suggestions for how to utilize some of my favorite online assessment tools with the video. There are two other options specific to ensuring students watch a video. Tracy mentioned one in her post – EDpuzzle – but another is Educanon. Both work great for reinforcing content presented in the video because you can add either additional audio by recording your voice or adding questions directly within the video. As students view the video, viewing is paused at the points on the video track where you enter the questions/audio. The teacher can track student viewing of the video as well as gain insight into their understanding (or lack thereof) of the content. Educannon is a bit more robust than EDPuzzle but we use both quite successfully in my district.

  • Diane Vrobel says:

    I use http://www.educanon.com and it lets me embed the video assessment in the video.

  • Tracy says:

    Great post!! The site edpuzzle is also a fantastic way to assess students while they watch a video!

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  • John Bennett says:

    From this post: “She said she’s being asked to teach two classes at the same time.” Obviously, this occurred because of some type of unexpected complication… Hopefully, the two classes are in similar if not the same subject. I’m also wondering what the grade level is; even more importantly, what the students’ experience / comfort level is with technology. Simultaneous classes has to mean technology… Most obviously, ‘teaching’ is not an option; I personally think this is a good thing!!!

    It’s sort of analogous to the one-room schoolhouse with more students. Thanks for the list of new teacher resources by the way. As I’ve heard those one-room schools described at places like Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, the ‘teacher’ was not even a teacher but more of akin to a ‘study hall monitor’ in today’s schools; her/his main responsibility was hearing students’ recitation of learned material. In the current (hopefully at least adjoining classroom) situation, the teacher could roam around answering student’s needs for assistance. The students’ extra responsibility would be to keep the teacher informed of learning status; I’d for sure use a ‘one-minute’ paper at the end of an appropriate topic session. I’d also hopefully find that feedback would enable a session with several students or the whole class OR maybe even another ‘out-of-class’ technology-enabled lesson.

  • Michelle Chastain says:

    I went to one of your workshops at GCCS last year and still love what you write and how you are helping us to flip our classrooms. I am an art teacher and use Showme.com there is a free version and there is a professional version for $50.00 which lets you download a LOT more videos. I can draw animals, portraits, etc… on an iPad and it records my voice while I am drawing. Once it is published to the web the students can watch it and draw. They can rewind it, if they are confused. It is very useful for the students that work ahead, they don’t have to wait on those that take longer to process or just work slowly. It helps those who are absent as I don’t have to explain and draw the same thing over and over in the classroom. It is also great for students to look at other how to draw tutorials as maybe they don’t get something the way I explain it and perhaps someone else’s Showme is easier for them to understand.

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