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The Advantages of Flipped Learning for Special Education

Educators have experimented with classroom settings for the past two decades, and by flipping a classroom, teachers have seen an increase in student involvement and motivation for learning. The principles of flipped learning for general education are easy to apply to teaching special education students.

What Is Flipped Learning?

The basic premise of flipping a classroom is simple. The teacher records a video of the course content for students to watch before coming to class. The teacher then uses class time for practice exercises, group projects or classroom discussion, not for a traditional lecture. The concept works with almost any subject matter. Teachers may record themselves looking into the camera giving the lecture, or they may make a video of themselves narrating a PowerPoint lesson.

Flipping a classroom can work as well in special education classes as it does in general education classes. In fact, many teachers have found that offering special education students the option of flipped learning has many wonderful benefits for both individual students and the class as a whole. Preparing the video content for a flipped classroom requires extra work up front, but the rewards are often well worth the time and effort for a special education teacher.

Benefits of Technology

Using flipped learning in special education takes advantage of the benefits of technology in today’s classroom. For many students with learning disabilities, the use of video content allows them to engage coursework more successfully. Rather than listening to a lecture only once in real time, students can listen to the recordings as many times as it takes. The teacher is then free during class to help students with problem areas rather than deliver class-wide instruction.

In other situations, students might be uncomfortable in a traditional classroom setting, which makes learning very difficult. However, when students can watch course content in a comfortable setting of their own choice, they can relax enough to focus and absorb the material. Students on the autism spectrum, for example, may benefit from a video presentation where a teacher reads aloud from a text; the student is then better able to follow along by both listening to and reading the words on the page or screen.

Self-Paced Learning

Another benefit of flipping a classroom is that it allows students to set their own pace for learning. In a traditional classroom lecture, many students with learning disabilities struggle to keep up with the teacher’s speech. They might not be able to take notes as quickly as their classmates, or they might have questions about vocabulary or concepts that teachers cannot answer without interrupting the lecture. Being unable to follow class lectures causes anxiety for these students, which in turn causes them to become even more confused.

Allowing students to watch the lecture outside of class relieves a great deal of their anxieties. They have the freedom to stop and listen to a section of the video again if they need to. They can replay the entire video as many times as it takes to absorb the content. They can pause to take notes or to ask a tutor for help with vocabulary. Giving special education students the freedom to learn at a slower pace with multimedia content is a huge step toward bridging the performance gap between them and their general education peers.

Personalized Teaching

Flipped classrooms also allow teachers to personalize their lessons for individual students. As teachers come to understand their students’ problem areas, they can gear their instructional videos toward specific needs. They can also incorporate their students’ favorite themes and interests into their lessons. Special visual cues or music cues from the video can help teachers draw students in when it is time for practice lessons or reviews during class time.

Teaching special education students in a flipped classroom setting can be rewarding for both teachers and students. With the freedom of self-paced, personalized learning, students can see dramatic improvement in their ability to absorb new concepts. By relying on video lectures, students watch outside of class, and teachers reserve valuable classroom time for one-on-one assistance.

Flipping the classroom gives teachers the chance to interact more meaningfully with their students, meet their specific needs and propel them toward greater academic and personal growth.

Learn more about the UTPB online Master of Arts in Special Education program.


EDUCAUSE: 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms

Remake Learning: Can Special Education Students Benefit From Flipped Classrooms?

eSchool News: Flipped Learning Is Changing the Face of Special Ed

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