Most people can probably relate to this scenario from their time as a student. You spend an hour in class, listening to a teacher or professor lecture, then get home, get out your homework assignment, and have no idea what you’re supposed to do. Sure, maybe you can ask Mom or Dad, but when it comes to more technical subject matter, they might not be able to help either. And all the Google searches and YouTube videos in the world aren’t able to answer your questions the way a human being can.
Enter the “flipped classroom” model. The concept isn’t new, but it’s one we think could apply to a lot of teachers and students in Carroll County Public Schools and elsewhere, helping to prepare students for independent learning, problem-solving and accountability — all necessary life skills.
Shawn Hampt of Manchester Valley High School and Linda McGuire of South Carroll High School gave a presentation on the flipped classroom model before the Board of Education during a meeting last month. Essentially, students watch video lectures after school hours as their homework. Then, when they next come to class, they do work, such as worksheets or labs, to reinforce what they’ve learned from the lecture, and are able to ask questions of their teachers about the subject matter.
Because students learn in different ways, the flipped model may not be for everyone. McGuire said test results went up dramatically for some of her students. Hampt said his test scores have varied, but he is able to teach more material and give students more hands-on lab opportunities in his science classes during the semester in the flipped classroom model.
“If I’m lecturing all day, I never get to really interact with kids,” Hampt told us, “so the teacher-student interaction time is through the roof compared with just lecture-style.”
The flipped classroom promotes active learning, giving students more of an opportunity to be part of the process rather than just taking in information the way they might in a lecture hall setting. The model also allows students the opportunity to interact with and help each other during classroom time, which builds interpersonal social and collaboration skills that will eventually be needed when they enter the workforce.
Accountability is also a big part of the flipped classroom style, a skill that will go a long way for students later in life. That’s not to say students need to have a complete understanding of the subject matter through watching videos, just the opposite in fact. Successful students will be the ones willing to put in the time and effort into watching the videos then formulating good questions to better their understanding.
By having the videos available online 24/7, it also gives students an opportunity to learn at their own paces. They have the ability to rewatch a lecture or rewind if they just missed something without taking up valuable time in the classroom from other students. They could also jump ahead a bit if they feel like they have a good grasp on the information and want a head start on the next subject.
However, there are some drawbacks, the flipped classroom’s heavy reliance on technology chief among them. It may mean some additional screen time for some students and for those who may have an unreliable internet connect, workarounds, such as putting lectures on a flash drive, will need to be developed.
Some critics may also say that this form of learning does not necessarily lend itself well to prepare students for high-stakes test-taking, such as state assessments or Advanced Placement exams. Of course, many parents have been clamoring for years for teachers not to “teach the test.” The flipped classroom model seems to do what parents have sought.
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Again, it doesn’t work for every class, teacher or student, but it is a model we would hope some educators may take a closer look at and see if there are opportunities to implement the flipped classroom into more lessons and subject matters. Students, we think, would be better for it from the life skills they gain.