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Flipped Class Method Gaining Ground

Clintondale (Mich.) Community Schools’ high school has turned the traditional school day upside-down.
Students at Clintondale (Mich.) High School collaborate on a math assignment during class.

Clintondale (Mich.) Community Schools’ high school has turned the traditional school day upside-down by asking teachers to assign short video lectures as homework and have students do activities, participate in discussions and complete assignments in class, with their teacher at hand to answer questions.

Clintondale High School applied the flipped model gradually, beginning with just a couple of classes in the 2009-2010 school year. In the fall of 2010, all freshmen classes were taught using this model. After seeing an increase in student achievement and a decrease in the failure rate, administrators decided to flip the entire school this year.

The flipped class is a type of blended learning, which combines online and traditional face-to-face methods. Students can review videos at their own pace, pausing to take notes or review a point. While the number of educators using this method is tough to calculate, 2,500 have joined the Flipped Class Network, a learning community for teachers using vodcasting (video podcasting) in class.

CHS teachers use Camtasia screen-recording software that allows them to speak over a PowerPoint presentation and to create and upload videos in different formats. Videos from the Khan Academy, a nonprofit organization that offers a library of 2,600 video tutorials, are also used. Teachers can upload their videos to a school Web site, Edmodo or use learning management systems such as Blackboard or Desire2Learn.    

Some critics, including Lisa Nielsen, author of Teaching Generation Text, say educators should use the flipped classroom with caution because many students do not have access to computers outside of school. CHS does not have a one-to-one laptop program, but students can watch the videos on computers in class or use their own device. Those opposed to the flipped classroom say that students won’t watch the videos at home because it’s still homework and lecture is not the best teaching method for all students.

Susan Patrick, CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, says the flipped class method has the potential to improve personalization of instruction and increase student-teacher interaction and peer-to-peer learning. “The key is in the implementation and the fidelity for using research-based practices such as increasing peer-to-peer interaction, focusing discussions on key learning objectives, enabling effective teaching interventions and assuring that students are demonstrating the knowledge and skills at high levels of proficiency along the way,” Patrick says.