Why flip the classroom? ‘If kids aren’t learning, it’s not them, it’s you’

Why a teacher’s decision to flip the classroom turned out to be a great learning experience for everyone

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When thinking back to the moment that made him a flipped classroom convert, Lee Graves, a high school science teacher at ISD 15 in Minnesota, recalls a quote he heard from an ISTE 2012 keynoter: “If the kids aren’t learning, it’s not them, it’s you.”

That struck a chord with Graves who said he was tired of kids sleeping through class — “both figuratively and literally.” Instead, this model has given him the chance to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of his students as he’s able to observe students actively learning and collaborating before his eyes, rather than listen to his lectures.

For one thing, Graves’ students are asking deeper-level questions than before and taking class time in a different direction based on their collective and individual understanding of the material, which might be radically different in his first period compared to his fifth. “I’ve been able to kind of differentiate my way through that,” he said.

Ultimately, though, it’s come down to the results. “I’m a data driven person,” Graves said, adding that he frequently gives students surveys at the end of a term. “Eighty percent of my students said they’ve learned more with this — and I see that the kids are learning.”



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