A first-hand look inside a flipped classroom

Teachers say that even though the pilot is over, they won’t go back to the old way of teaching.

There have been many school reform trends over the past few years: student response systems, video games for math, mobile phones for learning—but none have completely transformed the notion of learning like the flipped classroom.

Flipped learning, in essence, turns the idea of traditional classroom instruction on its head by asking students to watch videos of teacher lectures for homework, then apply the lesson with the teacher in the classroom.

Using this method, proponents say, teachers have the opportunity to help students learn as individuals, and students can learn concepts more quickly.

Yet, since its takeoff, skeptics have questioned whether students have the time management skills to watch the videos at home and whether in-class work really does affect student achievement. Some have even questioned whether students and parents like the new approach, and if flipped learning is just a fad.

To help peers and skeptics better understand the concept of flipped learning, Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, high school science teachers and pioneers in the Flipped Class ideology, recently created a first-of-its kind flipped classroom “open house,” which invited other educators to see how flipped learning works and what students have to say about it. The event took place in two countries, 20 states, and more than 30 cities and towns.

Watch Lake Elmo Elementary’s experience:

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One of the open houses took place at Lake Elmo Elementary School in Lake Elmo, Minn. Lake Elmo, part of Stillwater Area Schools—a rural district serving more than 8,900 students in 10 elementary schools (grades K-6), two junior high schools (grades 7-9), and one high school (grades 10-12)—started a flipped learning pilot in September that ended last month. Students in fifth grade math were given iPads and earphones and asked to watch 10- to 15-minute chunks of instruction a few times per week, then were asked to complete comprehension questions via the Moodle learning management system.

Meris Stansbury

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