Modern technology has spurred on a new trend in education: flipped classrooms. In a flipped classroom, students watch lectures and supplemental materials for their classes at home, usually pre-recorded by their instructors and uploaded to the web.
Classroom time is then used for answering student questions, helping with homework, and other activities that help students apply what they’ve learned.
While there are some obvious drawbacks to this method, more and more teachers are trying it out. Many have found it to be quite successful in improving student grades and comprehension, though many caution it’s not right for every teacher or every classroom.
Whether you love the idea or think it’s crazy, it’s definitely worth learning more about. Check out these stories of schools, from elementary to college, who have given flipped classrooms a go, often with amazing results. It may motivate you to try it yourself or might open your mind to the new possibilities tech offers educators.
This innovative school district is trying a lot of new things when it comes to helping young people learn. At the secondary level, many teachers are experimenting with flipped classrooms, and elementary students in the district are seeing rows of desks replaced with couches and a much more informal, comfortable setting. At all levels, students are encouraged to bring technology into the classroom, including e-books, tablets, and smartphones. These innovative, tech-centered strategies seem to be paying off, as students are performing well and many love the more relaxed setting. The biggest lesson educators should take away? Don’t be afraid to try something new. You may just come across something phenomenal.
More than three dozen high school classes at Allen are flipped, turning the educational experience on its head for many students and their teachers. One getting in on the flipping is AP Chemistry teacher Dana Leggett, who uploads video lectures for her students to review at home, spending class time working on homework assignments. She tried out the method in a few of her own classrooms before presenting it to other teachers. Students and teachers alike at the school are enjoying the flip, stating it helps kids to work at their own pace, gives them support, and promotes collaboration. A total of 37 teachers at the school are currently using the method for at least one unit in their curriculum, and many more may join them if this year’s courses go well.
If there was ever a school that showcased that flipped learning truly can be successful, it’s this one. Fewer freshman are failing at this school, located in the suburbs of Detroit, and flipped learning may be the reason. Principal Greg Green is the first to implement the flipped model school-wide after a test period of two years in just two classrooms, and for his students it seems to be paying off. Fewer freshmen students are failing, and more juniors are passing state standardized math tests. The school has also solved the problem of students not having access to the Internet at home, offering access to campus computers an hour before and an hour after class, or in special cases allowing them to use smartphones to view videos.
Students at this elementary school are taking part in a pilot flipped classroom program for math this fall. Six fifth-grade classrooms will be using at-home video lessons and quizzes at home, bringing their homework into class so that they can get help completing it from the teacher. Teachers at the school are using Moodle to track student progress in the at-home portions, seeing who watched the videos and completed the quizzes and more easily pinpointing those who are struggling. Teachers and administrators at the school decided to give the flipped classroom a try because they believe it will help give above- and below-average students a learning experience that’s more personalized to their needs.
Fans of the flipped classroom largely have this high school to thank for pioneering the practice. Two science teachers, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, came up with the idea to record lessons online for students. At first, the lessons were just for students who couldn’t make it to class, but the teachers soon realized that nearly all of their kids were taking advantage of the videos to review and reinforce their classroom lessons. The two then realized that perhaps they had stumbled onto something great, and created the format we now refer to as flipped learning. Both teachers believe that it’s not the videos alone that make the method effective, but the overall approach flipped classrooms take to learning. Bergmann and Sams feel the setup gives them more time to give individual attention to students and build better, stronger relationships, which can often foster greater motivation. Since they first started flipped teaching, the method has spread like wildfire, and is now used in thousands of schools across the nation.
In Potomac, Maryland, students in AP calculus classes are taking a different approach to their studies. Their teacher, Stacey Roshan, uses the flipped method to help these high school seniors grasp the often difficult concepts central to calculus. She uses a tablet to record her lessons, uploads them to iTunes, and assigns them as homework. Students come to class the next day ready to work on homework in class and get answers to their questions. Roshan began flipping classes to help her cover more material in a semester, as she often found that traditional methods just didn’t leave enough time to address all the material students would need to know for an AP Exam. As a result, the number of her students scoring a perfect 5 on their exams has risen.
Flipped classrooms are growing in popularity at East Grand Rapids High School in Michigan. The first teacher to try the method, science teacher Janyce Huff, has found that it gives her a lot more time to spend on lab experiments and interaction with students. Like Roshan at Bullis, Huff found that when trying to cover it all in the allotted class period, there just wasn’t enough time for everything. She’s also found that what takes her 40 minutes to explain in the classroom can be covered in a 10-12 minute vodcast, saving both her and students’ time, though she and other teachers admit that overall the flipped method does require more investment. Another challenge is keeping students accountable, as those who don’t watch the video before class will likely be lost and get little from the experience. Overall, however, the teachers and the students seem to embrace the method.
Brett Wilie, a Dallas-based science teacher, first decided to flip his classroom after seeing the videos produced by flipping legends Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann. He was inspired by the possibilities they offered and followed their model when developing his own flipped classroom materials, flipping both his regular and honors chemistry courses. Like many other teachers, he says one of the best benefits of the method is simply having more class time. It allows him to cover the required curriculum while still having lots of time for discussion, labs, interaction, and projects. With that extra time he was able to bring in more lessons that helped students see how chemistry could be applied in the real world to solve everyday problems, something he feels greatly motivates and inspires students. The results of his experiment with flipping have been largely positive, and overall student scores increased during his first year of using the method.
We’ve heard a lot about flipped learning in primary and secondary schools, but not much about its uses in higher education. While it is a much more popular method in the lower grades, there are college professors who used flipped classrooms with their students. Susan Murphy is one of them, using flipped methods to teach her students about social media at Algonquin College. It would almost seem wrong not to use a flipped classroom in a certification program all about social media, which may be part of the reason Murphy chose to take her lectures online. She maintains a blog about her experiences with flipping her classroom, and after just a few months of using it, she notes some benefits, including a much more relaxed classroom atmosphere. Students who struggle with the material are much less stressed trying to keep up, and all students are able to tailor the learning experience to their own pace. She states, “My students are confident and most importantly they are having fun learning new things. Attendance in class is at an all-time high; in fact many of them are in class and already working when I show up!”
Sometimes flipping classrooms is referred to as the “Fisch Flip”, and algebra teacher Karl Fisch is where that name originates. Fisch teaches his freshman class using the flip method and believes it offers students a variety of benefits. He says it’s more advantageous to allow students to watch lecture material when its most convenient to them (whether at lunch, right after school, or during a study hall), and to let them learn at their own pace. Some students may only need to watch the short videos once, whereas others will have the advantage of being able to replay them until they can understand the material. Additionally, he emphasizes the importance of students having support while they’re practicing what they’ve learned. It seems to be working for him, and the 20-year veteran plans to continue using the flip for future courses.
Public schools aren’t the only ones embracing flipped education. Private school teachers like Troy Cockrum are also giving flipping a try to see what it can do for their students. Cockrum teaches English at St. Thomas Aquinas, and while many already see the subject as a bit of a flipped course even when taught traditionally, he is changing things up using modern technology. Inspired by other teachers using flipping, Cockrum records short lectures that instruct students how to write or employ correct grammar. Students then come to class to do their writing using Google Docs, getting help from him with editing, formatting, and other issues. Only two months into his experiment with flipping and Cockrum already felt he was seeing better results from students. He does admit that his first year has been a bit challenging, as it requires a new set of classroom management skills and more time from him to track and help students, but he says the most important aspect of it has been “the class time and the one-on-one instruction I can do with each kid.”
While not all teachers love the idea of flipped classrooms, high school teacher Shelley Wright sure does. She doesn’t believe it’s the most amazing thing ever to happen to education, but she does think that the classroom time it frees up can be an amazing opportunity in the hands of the right teacher. She uses flipped education in her classroom, but not all the time. She prefers to use it in “bite-sized chunks” rather than assigning video lectures every night. Often, the video assignments may not even be lectures but short snippets designed to build curiosity and get students thinking. These videos, along with a class wiki, help students organize, interact with, and understand the material — what she believes the educational experience is all about.
Science teachers Pam Wendel and Laura Turner are in their second year of teaching with a flipped classroom. They decided to use the method in response to the large number of students who were struggling with their science studies, with many failing. In their first semester of using a flipped classroom, the failure rate dropped by half; by their second year of using the program, it was down to almost nothing. The teachers not only use flipped methods, but also employ a layered curriculum, which allows students to work at their own pace through the material.
Students at Willis use what is called “blended learning,” but many teachers at the school are also embracing flipped classrooms. Social studies teacher Darren O’Hara began using the method this year and feels that students are retaining more information and getting more excited about learning. Students also enjoy the flipped classroom, with seventh-grader Jenny Melchor stating, “I would choose this way. It’s much easier to me.” Used in conjunction with the blended learning techniques found throughout the school, students in this district are getting an education that’s fully immersed in the latest technologies.
April Gudenrath began her career in IT, working for corporate giants like Wal-Mart, Oracle, and Microsoft as a technology trainer. Perhaps that’s why she brings so much passion for the latest technology to her high school English courses. Gudenrath is using blended and flipped learning in her classes, though she has been bringing technology into her teaching for the past 20 years. Flipped classrooms are just the latest in a long line of ways she’s worked to connect with students through technology, but it seems to be a pretty effective one. She speaks at a wide variety of conferences on flipped classrooms, helping spread information and advice to teachers across America.
This article was written by the folks over at OnlineCollege.org. The original posting can be found here.
If you’re wondering what a Flipped Classroom entails, look no further than this fantastic new infographic from Knewton.