Counselors can flip too!

The flipped classroom has been one of the biggest innovations in education in the last decade, proponents would say, and now it’s finding its way into the counselo’rs toolkit as a technique to get classroom lessons to more students and make much-repeated instruction available in one installment.

“Every time I don’t have to field a question that I can answer via video or other tutorial/resource – I can spend time with students or respond to specific questions,” says Jeff Reams, a counselor in Lake Tahoe, CA, who works with education technology. “With caseloads as high as they are across the country – efficiency is key.”

“It saves a lot of time, says Mindy Willard, a former national counselor of the year and now a high school counselor at Franklin, WI, High School. “At my school, we have a ratio of 375 students to each counselor. Flipped lessons are a great way to ensure that students are receiving accurate information from us and it frees up time for us to meet with students on an individual basis.”

The flipped classroom, where recorded lectures and preliminary work on a topic are done by students at home and homework, practice and explanations take place in schools, was first popularized about a decade ago by two science teachers  who recorded lessons for absent students  – and then found others benefited. The two authored the bookFlip your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day”.

Its use in schools, colleges and even adult education and training has since grown to the point where one report suggested that about half of all educational institutions were using it frequently. A recent  review of research about the approach concluded it was very effective and one survey of administrators from 2,600 school districts reported most found it was widespread and helping students learn and make better use of classroom time.

Why flip your lesson?

            1) It saves time, especially with topics that many students will have questions about – you can just direct them to the lesson. Eventually they’ll know to check your site for instructions.          2) Students often learn better on their own at their own pace, when they can pause or replay the message

3) You can provide details.  Your follow-up lesson or meeting with a student or group can begin with explanation of details or responding to persistent questions about things like registration, grades or college materials. It helps you avoid scheduling much-protected classroom time and the problems classroom lessons create. One method is to direct students to flipped lesson then offer a follow up meeting at lunch for questions. Or you can offer to respond via email or social media. Teachers, also, can use video in the classroom.

4) Parental involvement increases. You can also direct parents to the lesson and they will be better informed and involved and can work with their student on the topic – from socio-emotional issues to college planning.

5) Absent students or those in other settings for some reason can access the lesson. You can add material from outside experts or sources.

6) Checking for participation and understanding.  There are applications such as EdPuzzle that allow you to have students record their viewing of a lesson and take a simple assessment.

7) Online practice. Hardly would seem they’d need it, but students can practice using online resources properly – and get more information on a topic easily.

How can I flip my lesson?

The American School Counselors Association has this webinar  that can help counselors and Reams provides a step-by-step directions at his site for counselors using Screencast-O-Matic and one where he explains how to use YouTube. Willard also has this item with details

“I can voice over a Prezi presentation with the voice recorder that is on my computer. When voicing over a Google Presentation we use Screen Castify. I could not live without Google Drive. All of our students have Chrome Books so they are very familiar with Google Docs. We use this in addition to Google Classroom to flip our lessons to students.”

Other good sources are this blog entry from the Flipped Learning Network and this page from the Flipped Institute. TedEd has a guidance here for creating lessons from its content.

Jim Paterson has written broadly on career exploration, academic success and other education related topics for several national and trade publications. He was a school counselor and was formerly named “Counselor of the Year” in Montgomery County, MD, a large Washington, DC-area district. He is currently a writer for many education publications and websites, based in Lewes, DE.