Choosing Content and Creating Lessons

Creating your first lesson can be a daunting task for teachers to overcome, especially for the first time.  So many questions could be running through your head:

  • Where do I start?
  • What subject/course do I start with?
  • What lesson can I flip?
  • How will I flip the lesson?

There are a few strategies to help you get started on creating your first flipped lesson.  It will ease the anxiety and ensure that you are flipping for a reason.  The biggest mistake teachers can make is flipping a lesson just to say they flipped.  It is the same challenge we face with incorporating technology into classrooms today; don’t use an iPad just to use it.  The iPad should provide extra enhancement, engagement, and overall success of a lesson.  However, the first time you use an iPad in a lesson no one expects your students to be creating a world class iMovie; we can start at a much more basic level.  Perhaps your students are using the camera to take pictures of objects or actions that represent vocabulary words.  Regardless, we start small with technology integration.  We are going to start small with flipping lessons.

Picking a Subject/Course:

  • My advise, start where you are most comfortable delivering content.
  • If you are a jack of all trades elementary school teacher, pick your best content area.
  • Secondary teachers, choose the class that you feel most confident, or the group of students you think would be best to start with a new adventure.

Choosing a specific lesson/topic to flip:

  • Choose the lesson where you feel the content is dry or basic.  Something that students typically grasp easily that you feel confident in delivering through media.
  • Science and Social Studies: Perhaps choosing the unit vocabulary is a good place to start.  The lessons objectives could be to simply have the students read and listen to the vocabulary and copy down the important information.  It could be enhanced with videos to further explain the vocabulary or vivid pictures with your dialogue to add more knowledge.
  • Math: Choosing a basic skill where students are following a new process is always a great place to start.  The students will be more engaged and can focus on the work without outside distractions.  The next day in class is a brief review and practice.
  • Reading/Language Arts:  Similar to science and social studies, unit vocabulary is a great place to start.  Other options could be background knowledge on a new writing style, word patterns, author study, etc.  Background knowledge is an important part of reading and writing, providing students with additional information could drastically increase the level of engagement in class.
  • Physical Education:  If you start your kinesthetic class with a exercise routine, you could preview the new exercises.  The next day in class student can go right into the workout without spending time demonstrating the new exercises.  Your job will then be to facilitate and critique students to perfect their form.
  • Art:  Preview your next project beginning to end.  Allow the students to see the materials they will use, the process at a glimpse, and the product at the end.  They will be more prepared for the beginning of the new unit.
  • Music: Similar to physical education or art, perhaps a simple preview of the new music, new composition style will be important.  Also, similar to Reading/Language Arts providing background knowledge on a new area of study or composer could be useful.

How to flip the lesson:

This decision is going to depend on many factors.  You need to evaluate the tools you have available to deliver content at home, your comfort level, and what you think will be best for your students.  Below are three basic types of methods for flipping lessons, however, you are not limited to these types.  Regardless of the mode you choose, the lessons should not last more than ten minutes, especially the videos.  Taking into account students pausing and watching multiple times, the whole process should not exceed twenty minutes.

Video Lecture:

  • Defining it in a simple manner, the teacher is delivering a lecture similar to class in-front of a camera
  • Keep in mind, if a lecture is boring in person, it will be boring through video.  Use the skills and strategies that make you a great teacher in your video lecture as well.
  • TouchCast is an excellent free app for delivering video lectures.  It is very basic to use but also offers advanced features like green screens, and embedding photos, videos, and websites.  You can upload the video directly to TouchCast, youtube, or save it to your iPad as a file.
  • Even though the students aren’t there, ask questions, tell the students to pause the video and come back when they have an answer.


  • The teacher captures the images on a screen and provides additional narration in the background.
  • This is a great tool for providing tutorials on computer functions, navigating websites, following a written out process, or defining vocabulary.
  • It is a great way to have students focus in on the process while still gaining the important narration and dialogue from the teacher.
  • Teachers uncomfortable seeing themselves, this avoids that hurdle.
  • Again, even though students aren’t present, ask questions so students can pause and answer.

Interactive presentation:

  • The teacher creates slides for the students to read, similar to Keynotes or Powerpoint.  In a traditional lecture the teacher would be providing additional dialogue.  This can still be accomplished.
  • Embed audio recordings into each slide to provide that additional narration.  The students can read the information at their own pace.  They can copy the information at their own pace.  They can listen to the teacher when they are ready.  No need to multi-task those three parts.
  • Teacher’s can add screencasts, videos, website links, and so much more to make the presentations more powerful.
  • You can simply upload the PowerPoint or Keynote for students to view or Nearpod is a powerful tool to use.  Unfortunately, for students to navigate Nearpod on their own, this requires a paid membership.

The Next Day in Class

Future blogs will provide more direction and advise for transforming you classroom, but there is one important piece to the day after a flipped lesson.  DON’T deliver the same lecture/lesson to the students as what they did for homework.  If you do, you are giving them the message that the homework was pointless and a waste of time.  Your next lesson needs to be some sort of interactive work applying what they learned.  Even a worksheet is better then reteaching the content.  You can address questions and provide further assistance on the lesson, but do not reteach.  If there are only a few students with questions, pull them into a small group and let everyone else start applying!


Author: Ken Ehrmann

I am a fifth grade teacher in Pennridge School District. Additionally I teach graduate courses focusing on including iPads and technology into our classrooms. I facilitate professional development presentations and workshops focused on flipped and blended learning.

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