Teachers contemplate new ‘class flipping’ technique


Infographic by Alex Caranza and Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi.

Brittany Cornelison

Infographic by Alex Caranza and Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi.
Art by Alex Caranza and Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi.
New ideas are explored daily as to how teachers can better relate and teach their students. SMART Boards, student iPads and online math homework are only a few of the innovations that have graced public schools as of late. As a student body that is emerging into the tech-savvy generation, RBHS teachers have been looking for ways to work with this trait in their classrooms.
One teaching method that has recently become popular is classroom “flipping.” This has nothing to do with the physical classroom itself, but switching the order in which teachers teach the material to their students. Because of the success other schools have seen from flipping, some RBHS teachers are attempting to follow in their footsteps, including fellows mentor David Graham, teacher at RBHS for 16 years.
“The premise of it is that, you move the teacher more to a coaching position and role in the classroom and not someone who stand up and delivers notes … there’s a tendency on the part of students to zone out or to not pay much attention,” Graham said. “There’s not really a whole lot of data that suggests that lectures are an effective way of imparting knowledge to kids and that a more effective way is by actually doing. You learn from experience, not from somebody else telling you what to do.”
The basic concept of this method is that normal lecture time and note taking will be homework, where students can go online and watch presentation videos or PowerPoints in order to grasp the topics. Then the students will come into class to discuss findings and work on projects related to the material learned prior to walking into the classroom.
Flipping a classroom requires teachers to rely on the fact that students will accomplish the given homework task outside of class. This means that there would be a certain amount of material that each student would be required to do on their own in order to be caught up in class.
Senior Lily Salzer said this method would work best in a social studies classroom because there are many topics in which to form opinions on. She also said there are benefits to flipping the classroom that students may overlook.
“You would learn accountability a lot, because I feel like it places more responsibility on part of the student outside of the classroom,” Salzer said. “And you would learn critical thinking from it more, I guess, having discussions in class.”
According to the New York Times, the idea of flipping classrooms began in Mich., at Clintondale High School. The principal, Greg Green, got the idea for class flipping from his own recorded videos made to teach his son’s baseball team techniques. By recording the content, the kids were able to understand the skills outside of practice time, which made more time to work on skills during practice. After much experimentation, in 2001, Clintondale flipped completely. After the flip, the failure rate dropped from 30 percent to ten percent and graduation rates rose to above 90 percent.
Junior CJ Phillips is in classes where the flipped technique is attempted, but not executed well.
“It’s poorly implemented right now; teachers just sort of toss it into the curriculum every once and a while,” Phillips said. “[The success rate] depends on the class really. In history and english I learn best in a discussion, something difficult to achieve in flipped learning. In math and science I would love flipped learning.”
When implemented appropriately, out-of-class work for flipped classrooms can be anything from a presentation video to a podcast of a lecture. Under this classroom setup, students are responsible for spending time at home watching these videos and learning the material so that class time can consist of teacher to student interaction time as well as project completion.
“Experiential learning is the basis for flipping the classroom,” Graham said. “The idea is not to just arbitrarily throw something out there in the internet and have the kids look at it, the idea is to deliver the ‘boring stuff’ at home so the kids can look it over and then when they come into class the next day they can practice with it, do more researching, do more project-based learning in the classroom with the teacher in there to help them along the way rather them delivering the information and then having them go home and try to practice it on their own which can be somewhat daunting and uncomfortable for the kids.”
However, this ‘boring stuff’ may not be enticing to students, said Salzer, who feels as though it would be difficult for students to remain accountable to doing the daily homework assigned.
“I like the idea of it, but sort of knowing myself, I don’t know if I would follow through and do the work outside of class,” Salzer said. “So I think I would say that I prefer the traditional teaching method, but I do like the idea of it, if you can be accountable.”
The process of flipping a classroom goes in line with the idea of renovating all the rooms. Students of this generation are more technologically-oriented than generations of the past, according to Graham, meaning that modes of education need to be tailored to those strengths.
“The idea started a couple years ago. It’s one of those educational innovations that’s coming around,” Graham said. “There’s a lot of discussion about what the true nature of education should be going into the 21st century and this is one of those ways that people are trying to be innovative with education, trying to reach the kids where they are.”
By Brittany Cornelison