Flipped classrooms turning tradition on its head

Mar 9, 2013 by

A growing number of teachers nationwide are challenging a long-held educational tradition by asking their students to watch recorded lectures at home and do their homework in class.

The model, known as the flipped classroom, has been embraced by some local instructors who say it gives them more time for meaningful learning encounters, which pays off with students who are more involved and knowledgeable.

“The engagement is higher and I have more interaction,” said Jo-Ann Fox, who teaches 32 students at Reidy Creek Elementary School in Escondido. “I know my students’ strengths and weaknesses better than I ever have before.”

Fox spends four hours each weekend making five or six videos, which feature her voice over graphics explaining math concepts. Students watch the videos at home or sometimes in class — on a computer, tablet, DVD player or smartphone — pausing or rewinding for repeated viewing if necessary to understand the lesson.

A quick review of a quiz given the next morning shows Fox who scored low, and she meets with those students to go over the material while their classmates do other assignments.

photo Jo-Ann Fox talks with students at Reidy Creek Elementary School in Escondido following a morning math quiz. — John Gastaldo

“I’m not waiting until Friday’s test to see who didn’t understand something,” Fox said. Another benefit, she noted, is that she can devote more face-to-face time with students who need help because she spends less time giving lectures in the classroom.

That extra interaction is the prime advantage of the flipped classroom, said Kevin Fairchild, a science teacher on special assignment to help teachers use technology in the San Dieguito Union High School District.

“A lot of teachers are deciding that providing direct (lectures) is not the best use of that time, but guiding them in higher-level thinking activities is a better use of time,” he said.

Fairchild said there’s rising interest in flipped classrooms in his district, which is located in Encinitas, and he expects to see more teachers adopting the method next year.

He sees the model as a new way providing inquiry-based learning, where students discover knowledge by their own initiative instead of through listening to a lecture.

Jon Bergmann, credited with cofounding the flipped-classroom idea with Aaron Sams, said that indeed is the point.

“I think the key is to move to a student-centered classroom,” he said in a telephone interview from Chicago. “I don’t think it’s the answer to education, but it’s the way to the answer.”

While discussions of the concept predated his work, Bergmann said he and Sams had not heard of the strategy when they introduced it in their classrooms at a Colorado high school in 2007.

Interest in the approach picked up after they chronicled their success on websites for science teachers. Their book on the topic, “Flip Your Classroom,” was released in San Diego at last year’s convention for the International Society for Technology in Education.

As more teachers learned about the model, Bergmann said the online Flipped Learning Network grew from 1,000 members last fall to about 11,000 today.

Bergmann, who works full time as a technology facilitator for a Chicago-area school district, serves on the board of the nonprofit Flipped Learning Network. The group is organizing the sixth annual Flipped Learning Conference in Stillwater, Minn., this June.

via Flipped classrooms turning tradition on its head Page 1 of 2 | UTSanDiego.com.

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