Flip teaching helping to shakeup classrooms

April 30, 2012 7:51:54 AM PDT
Thousands of teachers all over the country are shaking up their classrooms with a technique called flip teaching. They are flip flopping what used to be home work with class work - and the preliminary results are good. We asked a couple of Bay Area teachers to show us what it's all about.

April Tucker teaches high school science in Mill Valley. She's taught for 22 years - but this is the first year she's flipped her classroom. Instead of lecturing in class, April records her lecture using the camera on her computer. She can use props and diagrams to spice things up. Then she puts the lecture on an internet site and students watch it at home.

"Which gives them the freedom to rewind and restart and understand the material better," said junior Nick Urban.

But the real key is what happens at school when teachers don't have to spend class time on lectures.

"I feel like it's a better use of our time," said sophomore Kevin Long.

"We can actually have labs and a lot more working with other people and talk to the teacher one on one if we are confused," said sophomore Rachael Ferm.

"I'm no longer up in front of the classroom, I'm out here with them now," said Tucker.

Some teachers record their own videos - but there are a growing number available free on the internet. Mary Wuerth teaches advanced placement biology in Marin County. But she often assigns students to watch lectures by a top teacher in Montana.

"I created a Wikispace that where other A.P. bio teachers can post their videos and we can share video guides and assessments and lab activities," said Wuerth.

One of the most popular lecture websites is Khan Academy, based in Palo Alto, with more than 3,100 lectures on a huge variety of topics. There's still no definitive research on how flip teaching affects student performance, but after almost a full school year, Tucker and Wuerth are excited.

"The kids have been doing an average 10 percent higher on unit assessments this year than they had in previous years," said Wuerth.

"They are performing on a deeper, richer level. The students consistently tell me that they feel like they are doing less, but learning more," said Tucker.

The biggest obstacle to flip teaching is making sure students have access to the internet to watch the videos after school.

Produced and written by Jennifer Olney


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