It’s been about 10 years since the idea of flipping classrooms first gained its soaring popularity and good reviews – and in that time it’s also apparently grown to help students with special needs.
Greg Green, perhaps the best-known administrator advocating for flipped classrooms, discovered the process (providing students with lessons at home in videos and then homework and support in the classroom) as he began his career—working in special education.
The Benefits of Flipped Classrooms for Students with Learning Needs
“That’s where I started teaching, and I found that I could give the students video tapes of the lesson. It allowed the students to play it back or pause it—and got parents involved. They loved it because they better understood what their students were doing and could help them.”
He says that when he had the students in class he could spend more time with them individually. Rather than try to instruct all the students having a wide range of needs and levels, he could tailor a lesson for all online, with extra work for those more advanced and time in the classroom to review for those who might be at a slower pace.
In class he was still busy, moving from student-to-student, but some were working independently, some advancing with just a bit of assistance (often from someone helping in the class—even a volunteer) and others who required a great deal of attention getting it, rather than being lost in a lesson aimed too high for them.
So a lesson about the branches of government might be supplemented by current events readings or other writings about the courts for some, it might require a brief explanation the next day about some terms for a few and for others struggling, several views of a video and some further explanation.
- That’s time better spent than on a teacher-delivered lesson, where some would be bored and off-task, others would have a variety of questions that would delay the class and others would not understand.
- That work at the right pace takes place at home, ideally with help from parents and others.
So, experts point out that along with the flexibility of video, applications that allow captioning, easy enlargement of pages or text-to-speech can help special needs students. Mainstream technology now more often offers what used to be considered assistive technology, making it familiar to these students, less embarrassing and more accessible.