Flipping the Social Studies Classroom

More reasons you should consider flipping your classroom.

What’s so great about flipped classrooms?

Flipped teaching is a great way to create an active, vibrant classroom and enhance student learning. It requires students to complete lower levels of cognitive work outside the classroom and focus on the application, analysis, evaluation, and creation in class. The classroom activities are largely hands-on, teacher-guided, higher-level cognitive work.

Teachers become facilitators as students gather information, discuss, problem solve, and engage in project-based learning. As the students work individually and in groups, their active learning creates deeper understanding and improved retention of knowledge gained.

AMLE talks with author Melissa Dugan about Flipping Your Social Studies Class

Flipping the classroom is a good example of differentiating lesson plans. Students are given basic assignments of material they must cover at home by way of teacher-generated videos/lectures which they can study at their own pace with as much review and repetition as they require.

Time to Learn

When classroom instruction is lecture-based, students are taught to take guided notes. A disadvantage here is that some students write faster than others and are bored, while others rush to keep up with the pace of the class.

Under the flipped teaching plan, students study the material at home, where they can take notes at their own pace. Without the stress to “keep up,” students have time to better absorb the information.

Also, reviewing content and taking notes at home allows students time to formulate questions they may have about the material.

Incorporating Technology

Having a basic knowledge of material assigned and studied at home, students are now ready to apply that learning to hands-on classroom activities. Here are some examples of engaging social studies activities that incorporate technology and brings students’ ideas to life.

1. Students research an historical event, such as the Great Depression, World War II, or the Vietnam War, collecting information from the Internet, books, and family interviews. They write their presentation, then pair photos with their narration and use an app like iMovie or their smart phone/device to create a movie. Students share their work via iBook, on a classroom website, or even on a YouTube channel.

2. Students create a 30-second video explaining a social studies topic, such as the cause of World War I, using their own cell phones or devices. They email their videos to the teacher, who can quickly assess their grasp of the material.

3. Students use Glogster (www.glogster.com) to create animated posters about an historical event. Glogster is user-friendly and offers lots of bells and whistles to include in animations. Students can use graphics, original photos, Internet images, and videos to create class presentations that are easy to share.

4. A popular group activity that keeps students engaged incorporates Kahoot (getkahoot.com) which is a fun, interactive game.

In small groups, students compete against other groups by correctly answering teacher-created or contributed questions in a timely fashion.

Addressing the Challenges

Incorporating flipped teaching isn’t always easy; there will be challenges. For example, teachers must find the time to create videos for students to view at home and ensure they have meaningful enrichment activities for students during class time.

They also must ensure all students have access to a computer and the Internet. Teachers and administrators might provide computer time for those students who need it before school, during a study hall, or after school.

Flipping the classroom requires time and effort, but seeing students engaged in their own learning makes it worthwhile.


  1. When it comes to Social Studies, there are many ways for students to really take control of what their learning. A “flipped classroom” is one of those ways as it supports higher levels of bloom’s taxonomy. Students learn to ask deeper more meaningful questions as their interest in a topic increases. This model includes work outside of the classroom too, similar to a college structured course. I think implementing this in a classroom would increase critical thinking skills and push students towards an independence they will soon find themselves in. Additionally, this being adapted to an online structure format allows for teachers to use their technological skills to create a more interesting classroom. Great concept and ideas shared throughout.