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Wondering what the next new buzz phrase or sexy subject is in education?

The answer seems to be Flip-Thinking.

It will come as no surprise to experienced teachers to hear that most of the elements of ‘flip-thinking’ have been around for years. Flip-thinking also known as HomeLearning or InformalLearning is an idea has been refreshed into a new and improved synthesis that we could call Flip-learning.

What I have done is develop the inital idea of flip-thinking to include progression (for the student) to becoming an autonomous learner

Here’s an outline of how I see Progressive Flip-Thinking (PFT) working:

Short term Planning

Part 1: HomeLearning

You set objective 1 type work(basic stuff) to be done at home and you call it HomeLearning. We might for instance decide to ask our students to go home and learn the structure of the human kidney. This would involve drawing the structure and labelling the diagram.

Notice that this is new work for the student and not reinforcing the content of the previous lesson. So we are flipping the initial class work to homework and the homework to class work.

There are all sorts of ways a teacher can create the desire to carry out HomeLearning. A technology solution might have the homelearning exercise posted in a blog, google document or a social network. Here we are taking advantage of networking skills the students already possess. However from experience it has been found that phase 2 of the process is sufficient motivation for the student.

Part 2: Testing and Feedback

In the next lesson the teacher would begin the lesson by ‘testing’ the students HomeLearning. In the case suggested above the teacher might provide the students with a real kidney. ask students to dissect them and identify the structures.

By moving around the students the teacher can quickly give the students feedback on their identification of the kidney structure. This feedback is immediate is direct(not in a comment in a book) and overcomes the delays associated with traditional homework marking.

If students are asked to 'pair and share' their identification then we can also employ peer-instruction as an effective method to maximise feedback in the early part of this lesson.

Reducing the delay between the students independent learning and the feedback reduces the occurrence of mis-understandings.

Towards autonomous learning(Long term plan):

In theory as the students progress through the course the teacher will be able to devolve more challenging work form objective 2 the 3 (more difficult stuff) for HomeLearning. The following model is a first best guess how this might work.

Let the red line represent an academically able student(s) already confident in their learning. The can be delegated HomeLearning straight away and the teacher will be in a position to accelerate these student(s) to the higher objectives more rapidly.This model does not provide a total 'lesson plan' but here is a list of the observed effects:

The blue and green line represents less academically able students who will require additional support and guidance and skills training to handle their HomeLearning.

The model optimistically suggests total autonomy of leaning for some students. Of course the final outcome will vary from one student to another. As the student moves to higher levels of study the graph is once more engaged to the left hand side of the time line. Perhaps we are also looking at a model of the development of professional autonomy (Life Long Learners).

The model should not be over interpreted, the student line of progression would typically have ups and downs, and different subjects may have different lines of progression.

This model does not provide a total 'lesson plan' but here is a list of the observed effects:

• More students completing homework.

• An immediate value to the homework is understood.

• A sense of urgency of the part of the student to be prepared for the lesson.

• Students arrive at the lesson already knowing the topic to be covered (already focused).

• Students becoming increasingly independent.

• Less marking for the teacher.

• Better connection between student and teacher through the homework.

• Greater awareness of the issues affecting the learner.

• The regular structure is predictable, gives the students security and confidence to perform in class

• its more fun


1. You can read and listen to more on the topic by search the podcasts of November Learning looking for the Richard Halket interviews (there are 6).

2. I would also recommend Eric Mazur Confessions of a Converted lecturer on Peer Learning.

3. Dan Pink in the Telegraph

5Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann (pioneers of this type of learning with lots of experience):

6.John R. Sowash's tips on reverse learning:

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