Thursday, March 10, 2011

Are you ready to FLIP the classroom?

There is a new paradigm shift occurring in classrooms.  Many of the most innovative teachers are turning the traditional K-12 classrooms upside down in an effort to individualize the learning experience for students. They are "Flipping" the classroom in order to make classroom instructional time more valuable to students.

"Flipping" the classroom refers to a new approach to teaching in which the students view videos, podcasts or vodcasts of classroom lectures at home for homework. In the classroom, students apply what is learned by completing what is typically identified as "homework" in the classroom. 

This innovative approach to instruction offers many instructional advantages. By viewing video lectures in Math and Science, students may pause, stop, rewind at their own will. They may also engage in the lesson at a time that is right for them in their own environment.  In the classroom students are provided the opportunity to apply what was learned in the lesson. Students work through the problems during class time. The teacher acts as a facilitator by circulating the room and providing assistance where necessary. Students also work with peers  or in small groups to collaborate on problems. This model allows the teacher to be available when the students need him or her most. It creates a student centered personalized learning environment.

In a typical classroom students would sit through a lecture in order to learn the content. They would then be assigned homework for that evening. Many students who did not grasp the lecture would struggle with the homework. When this happens they would just quit or not do it.  They would return to class the next day having to learn something new. By flipping the classroom, teachers can see who is struggling and provide immediate help for those students. The application of this new teaching style has presented fantastic results in student achievement and engagement.

Where do you start?

There are a number of free video screencasts available for math and science online. One example is The Khan Academy. This site, created by Salman Khan houses thousands or screencast lectures from basic math to advanced calculus. It also includes interactive practice sessions for students to apply what they have learned.   In the video below, Salman Khan explains how he created Khan Academy and how it is being used by educators.

In our district we have access to MOODLE. MOODLE is an online course management software. Teachers can post links to videos and other online tutorials that students may access from any computer with internet access.  We also use Google Sites or Wordpress Blogs. Each of these allow teachers to embed or link to videos that students may access over the web. There are also a number of free tools that allow  teachers to record screencasts of their lectures. and the Smart Notebook Software all offers these features.

My recommendation is to start small. One or two a month is a great way to get students exposed to the process and to measure its impact.

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