Find Time to FLIP! Here are 3 Flipped Strategies You Can Do in 10 Minutes or Less

Here are 3 flipped strategies you can do in 10 minutes or less to engage students and improve learning.  

The most frequently reported barrier for faculty who want to integrate flipped and active learning strategies into their courses is time.

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When you have 50-minutes in class and you have a certain amount of content you’re expected to cover each day, it’s challenging to find time to integrate effective flipped and active learning strategies into your lesson.

Or, maybe you have the opposite challenge. Maybe you have too much time in one lesson. Teaching in 3-hour, 4-hour or full-day formats means you need to find ways to keep students motivated and engaged during a long stretch of time.

And, let’s not forget that it also takes time before class to find an idea relevant to your topic, plan the activity, and gather the resources or tools you need to implement it.

If you don’t have time to redesign your whole course, that’s okay. One of the misconceptions about the flipped classroom model is it’s “all or none.” But, you don’t have to FLIP everything!

You don’t need to create complicated active learning experiences to effectively engage students. You can FLIP one lesson. You can look for flippable moments in an existing lecture, lab, or seminar and then add an activity to help students apply what they’ve learned, clarify confusion, or address boredom (Honeycutt).

The foundation of flipped and active learning models is built on this concept. In my work the FLIP means to “Focus on your Learners by Involving them in the Process.”

It’s when you stop talking "at" your students and you give them something to DO. You “flip” it to your students and put them to work during class time.

Why FLIP? Analyzing Student Attention Spans

There are many benefits to integrating flipped and active learning strategies into your lessons. In this article, let’s focus on just one: student attention spans. Most students cannot stay focused and engaged during a continuous lecture.

Research varies on how long students actually pay attention during a lecture, often reporting anywhere from 10-15 minutes (Bradbury, 2016; Wankat, 2002) to 20-30 minutes (Sousa, 2006).

In one unique study, students self-reported how often and for how long their attention drifted away from the lecture (Bunce, Flens, and Neils, 2010). Most students reported attention lapses that were less than one minute in length, but they occurred more frequently as the lecture continued.

Researchers explained, “[D]ata in this study suggest that students do not pay attention continuously for 10-20 min during a lecture. Instead, their attention alternates between being engaged and nonengaged in ever-shortening cycles throughout a lecture segment” (p. 1442).


When active learning techniques were introduced, the researchers observed fewer students reporting attention lapses during and after the activity. The researchers continued, “Teachers should be aware of student attention cycles within a lecture and strive to improve student attention by using student-centered pedagogies at different times throughout a lecture, not only to decrease student attention lapses but also to increase student attention during the lectures that follow the use of such pedagogies” (p. 1442).

When you FLIP it and introduce active learning strategies throughout a lecture, you’re not only encouraging engagement and time-on-task, but you are helping build students’ capacity to focus for longer amounts of time throughout the course.

You can do this by adding one or two brief active learning strategies to your existing lecture. There’s no need to redesign the whole course! To begin, look for 10 minutes in your next class and add one of these strategies.

3 Flipped Strategies You Can Do in 10 Minutes or Less

Strategy #1: Interpret This Graph + Think/Pair/Share

Show students a graph. Ask them to study the graph for 30 seconds and try to interpret it on their own (“think”). Then, ask students to turn to a partner and discuss their observations for 1 minute (“pair”).

Finally, call on a few students to share their interpretations with the whole class (“share”). You can continue to call on as many pairs as your time allows (3-5 minutes).

Strategy #2: Interpret This Graph + Think/Pair/Share…and Compare

Do Strategy #1, but add another round to increase the challenge for your students. After the pairs share their ideas with the whole class, call on one or two students to summarize the pairs’ interpretations.

Encourage students to compare team 1’s response to team 2’s, for example. This strategy keeps all students focused during the duration of the discussion. They never know who will be called on to either share or compare!

Note: Usually, this is your role as the teacher. You listen to the comments, you make connections between pairs and groups, and you relate their ideas to the course material. With this strategy, you’re flipping this role (pun intended) and asking the students to summarize and compare and contrast ideas. You will still bring all ideas together at the end and add additional comments as needed.

Strategy #3: Pause + Share Notes

Integrate brief pauses during your lecture and ask students to share their notes with a partner or with their group members. For example, during a 50-minute lecture, pause for 3-4 minutes and allow students to review and share their notes. Encourage them to look for gaps in their notes or clarification of a confusing point.

Ruhl et al. (1987) found that this technique impacted short-term memory recall and long-term retention. Prince (2004) summarized, the class that used the pause procedure, “averaged 108 correct facts compared to 80 correct facts recalled in classes with straight lecture.” 

Prince (2004) continued, “Test scores were 89.4 with the pause procedure compared to 80.9 without pause for one class, and 80.4 with the pause procedure compared to 72.6 with no pause in the other class.”

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These are a few strategies you can use to FLIP your lecture, increase student engagement, and encourage time-on-task. Let’s keep the conversation going!

What flipped and active learning strategies have you used in class that take less than 10 minutes? Submit your comments below!


Bunce, D.M., Flens, E.A., & Neiles, K.Y. (2010). How long can students pay attention in class? A study of student attention decline using clickers. Journal of Chemistry Education. 87 (12). 1438-1443.

Bradbury, N. (2016). Attention spans during lecture: 8 seconds, 10 minutes, or more? Advances in Physiology Education40 (4).

Honeycutt, B. (undated blog post). 3 places to find flippable moments. Available online:

Prince, M. (2004). Does active learning work? A review of the research. p. 1-9. Journal of Engineering Education.

Ruhl, K., C. Hughes, and P. Schloss (1987). Using the pause procedure to enhance lecture recall. Teacher Education and Special Education. Vol. 10, Winter. p. 14–18.

Sousa, D. A. (2006). How the Brain Learns. Corwin Press: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Wankat, P.C. (2002) The Effective Efficient Professor: Scholarship and Service. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.  

Are you looking for more flipped and active learning strategies you can do in 10 minutes or less? Take the 40-minute on-demand online mini-course today!


  • This article has convinced me to incorporate more flip the classroom activities in my courses.

    Zadia Feliciano
  • This article has validated some of my online lessons that were designed last semester. Thank you!

    Lynn Siegel
  • Nice Strategy for students engagement

    Md Gias Uddin
  • This information is wonderful!! Thank you.

    Carolyn Dew

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