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Classroom Flipping: Two Colorado Teachers' Perspectives

Grace Hood

In some middle schools and high schools, completing a homework assignment could be as simple as watching a video at home.

Welcome to the 21st century classroom. It’s a world where students watch lectures at home and do homework at school. The concept of so-called “classroom flipping” started in Woodland Park, Colorado, in 2007.

For the most part, teachers are adapting the model to their material and what fits their needs in the classroom. Jerry Overmyer, creator of the Flipped Learning Network for teachers, which has almost 10,000 members, says no two classrooms look alike

“It’s about that personalized face-to-face time. Now that you’re not spending all of class time doing lectures, you’re working one on one with students. How are you going to use that time?”

KUNC traveled to rural Bennett High School to talk with two science teachers about how they’re using the flipped model. They’re part of a group of about 5 teachers at the school who have been using the practice for the past two years.

Earth Sciences, Biology Teacher Meg Hayne

Credit Grace Hood / KUNC

Hayne teaches freshman and sophomore students at Bennett High, and her classroom looks more like the traditional definition of classroom flipping. Students will watch eight to 12 minute videos at home.

“The beauty of teens is they don’t sugar coat the feedback,” says Hayne.

Many teachers have found out the hard way that making videos any longer than 12-15 minutes don’t get watched by students. They’re required to take notes, which Hayne checks in class. Students then do class activities and apply the basic material imparted in the video.

A typical example comes from earlier this week when Hayne sent students home to watch a video about mining practices. Student then came into class after watching the video to do a lab where they got to do mine site reconnaissance and stake mining claims. The idea was to help students understand the process and costs of mining.

“[Before] this type of project would have taken three days instead of 1,” says Hayne. “I would have spent 1 day lecturing, 1 day prepping them for this lab, and then running this lab in class.”

Hayne says she likes the practice because she can do one lab a week now instead of one lab a unit.

Hayne says flipping is a big hit with students. Out of 80 students she flipped with last year, only 3 said they liked a non-flipped classroom.

Chemistry Teacher Jennifer Goodnight

Credit Grace Hood / KUNC

Goodnight runs a flipped chemistry class with sophomore and junior students. Like Hayne she requires students to watch video podcasts and take notes, which she counts as a full grade in her class. But her classroom looks very different from Hayne’s—mostly because of what Goodnight calls a “mastery based” focus.

That means that on any given day students could be watching videos in class, doing a lab on their own, or working on problem sets. What Goodnight likes about this is that students can learn and work at their own pace.

“It gives them that ownership of not being stuck there for 50 minutes in their seats,” she says.

Goodnight also does verbal quizzing with students before they can move on to the next topic. Overall she’s seen an increase in test scores. Ultimately she says flipping works because it incorporates technology into the classroom. And it works with students on their own terms.

“If they’re going to have their iPods all the time, might as well put a lecture on it. So on their way home from school on the bus or whatever they can maybe watch your lecture for homework that night. It’s truly about meeting them where they’re at and realizing that the 21st century is different,” she says.

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