Flipping the classroom makes it easier on students

By Luciana Rodrigues
UJW Staff

ACCOKEEK, Md.—For Stacey Roshan’s calculus students, if there’s a concept they don’t understand, they can just rewind the lesson—literally.

Roshan is using a “flipped classroom” to teach advanced mathematical concepts with a model that allows students to view classroom lectures online at home and do homework in class.

For the past two years, Roshan has been able to create a more relaxed atmosphere for her intense AP calculus class at Bullis School in Potomac.

“I would never go back” to a more traditional, lecture style classroom, Roshan said. “The best thing about it is that they get the one on one time with me.” Roshan adds that the flipped classroom “customizes the lesson for students.”

A flipped classroom is one that teaches through a variety of methods that uses computer technology where students go home and watch a lesson. They then go to school with the lesson already learned and are able to do what would normally be homework in class with their teacher present for questions.

Roshan, for example, uses screen capture software to create and edit videos. Her students then are able to access these videos through a website called screencast.com as well as a podcast on iTunes that they can subscribe to.

According to Roshan, this technology allows her students to watch the videos she makes as many times as they need so that they are able to completely grasp the concepts.

The Urban Village Voice was not able to get in contact with Jonathan Bergman, founder of the flipped classroom concept, but according to The Washington Post, Bergman began using this method in his classroom while he was a high school chemistry teacher in Colorado. The Washington Post also reported that Bergman is scheduled to release a book on flipped learning in June and is also planning to launch a nonprofit organization to train teachers in the concept.

Bergman told The Washington Post that the benefits of this concept “are huge.”

“Kids learn to become independent learners, they figure out how to learn for themselves. In the old model, who would get the teacher’s attention? The kid who raised his hand, the kid who would do well anyway,” he told The Post. “In this model, everybody gets the teacher’s attention. It humanizes the classroom.”

Mark Hall, principal of an Indiana high school, told The Associated Press that “the real benefit of it is when they’re [students] trying to learn content, they have the teacher to help them.”

But a mathematics blogger from the Detroit area, Michael Paul Goldenberg, does not see this method as very effective.

“I’m hard-pressed to see how flipping things and putting non-interactive lectures onto videos magically or even logically makes things go better,” wrote Goldenberg in a comment that he posted on the Bergman article.

“The key to me isn’t the order in which these things occur, but the quality of the problems and the way the tools and habits of mind are delivered. Lecture, investigation, ‘discovery,’ ‘guided-discovery,’ and other approaches are all potentially effective. Any one of them alone is likely a huge stink bomb for given kids on given days. And bad videos still are bad.”

Knewton, a New York City-based educational technology company, conducted a study that found that more than 50 percent of freshmen failed English and 44 percent failed math in a traditional classroom model at a high school near Detroit. After using a flipped classroom, only 19 percent of freshmen failed English and 13 percent of freshmen failed math.

Roshan did not pick up the flipped classroom model from a specific source. She thought of using this model after attending a technology conference.

She is nearing the end of her second year using this method and believes that her students have reacted very positively to it.

Roshan is the only teacher that uses this as the core teaching method in her class every day. But she said other teachers at the Bullis school are beginning to supplement some of their lessons with similar technology.


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