Advertisement

'Flipped classrooms' give Carroll students more teacher interaction on tough questions

Homework has never topped the list of fond high school memories for most students.

Some Carroll County Public Schools teachers are turning the concept on its head. Though it may not make things more fun, they hope it will better prepare their students for independent learning.

Advertisement

The flipped classroom model, which some Carroll teachers have been employing for a few years, asks students to watch video lectures after hours and do work and labs during class time.

Shawn Hampt of Manchester Valley High School and Linda McGuire of South Carroll High School gave a presentation on the model before the Board of Education during a meeting last month.

Board members asked questions like how the teachers communicated about expectations with students and parents and how they could tell the model was working.

McGuire said flipped classrooms encourage more independence that will hopefully pay off later in life.

“I think we’d say most employers would like people who can problem-solve and persevere through this problem-solving,” she said.

Another reality is that a lot of parents can’t help their kids with coursework in subjects like advanced science. In the flipped model, kids are taking notes on lectures at home and the teacher is available in class to take on the role of helping with worksheets and projects.

“My personal test results between unit tests went up dramatically,” McGuire said. “I would say 20, 30, 40 percent for some things. … I don’t know if it was that I had more hands-on time that I could answer the questions or that they had the resources.”

Hampt said his test scores have varied, but he as been able to get to more in a semester including more hands-on labs.

On a Friday afternoon about two weeks into the spring semester at Manchester Valley, the model was in full use during Hampt’s advanced placement (AP) chemistry class.

A few days early, snow had closed schools, but students were still expected to watch the lecture and take notes. For AP classes the date of the AP test doesn’t change, no matter how many snow days an individual school district might have.

On a spreadsheet at the front of the classroom, Hampt has the semester’s schedule planned out day by day.

“If I'm lecturing all day, I never get to really interact with kids,” Hampt said. “So the teacher-student interaction time is through the roof compared with just lecture-style.”

One main hurdle to explaining the flipped classroom is people thinking they need to understand the material right away after watching a video lecture on their own.

Instead, he encourages them to “get a fair understanding, then bring in tons of questions like ‘I don't understand this, this, this’ — that’s awesome.”

Advertisement

About halfway through Friday’s class, a few students gathered around the whiteboard in the back of the room and started writing things out. Other were talking quietly as they did problems on a worksheet.

Hampt said when students have a question sometimes he’ll have them write it out directly on the lab tables in dry-erase marker. Just that can often allow them to think through a concept on their own.

Senior Hannah Walsh and junior Allison Rhoads were two students who had taken flipped classes before.

“We’re more accountable for ourselves,” Walsh said. “We ask more questions than we have, rather than going off of someone else’s view.”

For Rhoads, the model better takes advantage of the time students have with their teachers.

Junior Alex Schmitt, who had not had a flipped class before heard from others before taking the class that it was “going to be challenging. … Getting an A is so much harder.”

The ability to work ahead and set more of his own pace has been the most helpful so far.

Hampt, who has been teaching flipped classes since 2013, said a misconception is that video lectures are what make a flipped classroom.

“The difference is accountability,” he said, making sure students have actually taken notes, and are asking questions.

Hampt films 90 percent of the lectures for AP chemistry himself, sometimes substituting pre-made videos.

They are available online 24-7 for students. For those that might have technology issues, it’s important to work with them, for example putting lectures on a flash drive for students that might have an unreliable internet connection.

“I tell them just be proactive. Let me know,” he said.

“I know a lot of parents and students, if they've never had it, are very apprehensive coming to this,” Hampt said.

Junior Jake King was not a fan of the model after having taken flipped classes before. As a student juggling multiple AP classes and sports, he feels like it adds more of a time commitment to his already loaded schedule.

“I have no time to do anything else,” he said. “I’m having to learn everything myself.”

Senior Kai Stitcher said the difficulty of the flipped classroom is similar to the rigor of other AP classes he has taken. He feels that it will be good preparation for college classes.

The whole idea is rooted in growth mindset, a concept that counselors and educators have been advocating for in the schools. The idea is that talent is not the be-all and end-all of success. Work and practice allow students to develop skills both academic and emotional.

“I don't know if I can go back to the old ways,” Hampt said. “I just, I love being able to come in and be like, ‘All right. What do you guys need?’”

Advertisement
Advertisement