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Pearl River Teachers Test New Approach: Flipped Classroom

Pearl River School District Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Sue Wheeler spoke about a "flipped classroom" at Tuesday's board of education meeting.

Watching videos does not fit the traditional model for homework, but it is part of a relatively new approach some Pearl River teachers are trying known as flipping the classroom. 

The more familiar method involves a teacher presenting a lesson in class, then having the students apply the new information in their homework.

In a flipped classroom, the teacher prepares a video lesson that students watch for homework, then they apply the lesson the next day in the classroom, asking questions and doing assignments based on their home studies.

Pearl River Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Sue Wheeler explained the flipped classroom at Tuesday's board of education meeting, pointing out that it may not work for every lesson, but it can be useful.

"With increased access to the internet and video, teachers are able to make video part of the process," Wheeler said. "The children watch the video of the lecture at home. They take notes. They formulate questions. They can watch and re-watch the video. 

"When they come to class, they do the traditional homework with the teacher as an expert helper. It works well in a lot of content areas."

One advantage is the students have the help of the teacher when they are applying the lesson, which is when many questions can arise, rather than having to turn to other students or parents for help.

"Teachers can give more individualized and personalized attention to students," Wheeler said. "They can work more on a one-to-one basis." 

Students also have the option to watch the video as many times as necessary, which can be helpful when a student is struggling to grasp a new concept. 

Teachers can either create their own videos or find existing lessons online. There are many examples of flipped classroom lessons on YouTube.

Wheeler said this type of instruction does not fit for every type of lesson and it is normally used at the middle school and high school level. The method also helps students catch up if they are absent. 

See the attached video clips for more of Wheeler's explanation of flipped classrooms, examples of the video lessons and introductions to the teaching method. 

JMom March 27, 2013 at 06:47 PM
"Students also have the option to watch the video as many times as necessary, which can be helpful when a student is struggling to grasp a new concept." If the student doesn't understand something after hearing/seeing it the way it is being explained in the video, then watching the same explanation over and over again will not help them. They may need it explained in a different way and only a teacher, live and in-person, can think of another way to approach the subject to help the student understand it better. That's what teachers do. Yes, the student can ask the question the next day in class, but they have to wait a whole day to get an answer to their questions? That doesn't sound like a good lesson plan to me. What if their question is just one part of the subject matter? What if they can't understand the rest without first knowing the answer to their question? Sounds like a lot of wasted time to me because the teacher is going to have to explain everything again the next day. I'm not saying this isn't worth trying or that it won't work for some students or some subjects, but I personally don't like this approach. Students need to be able to ask questions in real-time and get answers in real-time WHILE they are learning, not a day later.
The Merm March 27, 2013 at 07:36 PM
There is a very big assumption with this idea...one assumes the student will watch the video for homework. In the real world, most students will not, and the lesson will still need to be retaught the following day anyway. In which case, there will be no time left for the reinforcement, which used to be called homework. Therefore, the child is not getting the reinforcement and the lesson will not stick in his mind. Why are educators always trying to reinvent the wheel at the expense of methods that have worked for years?
John March 27, 2013 at 11:19 PM
I agree with "The Merm" ... most high school students won't watch the video and will instead consider it as being a 'no homework!' day. And for those students in the elementary levels, this method would be a waste because it would rely on young children remembering everything about what they watched the night before, which wouldn't seem to be the best approach.... the only potential i see in this method is in the middle school where children are old enough to retain the information and yet young enough that the parents would know their homework and make them watch the video.... I guess we should wait and see before judging, but strictly from reading about it - outside of the middle school this method may just be a waste of time
Ryan Buncher (Editor) March 28, 2013 at 01:26 AM
I don't think this is being considered as an approach for every lesson or subject, at least not in the short run. It is just another type of approach that teachers can use. The point about replaying the video more than once is that sometimes the issue for a student is simply needing to slow things down. Obviously, some students will still be left with questions. That happens with more traditional approaches, too. If nothing else, it may be something a teacher can use to change things up rather than using the same approach all the time. Personally, I am just curious to see how it works. I did some research after the presentation and there are some teachers out there who have used this method for a while and they swear by it.
Ryan Buncher (Editor) March 28, 2013 at 01:30 AM
You raise a good point. Obviously, part of deciding if this method is appropriate for a given class is the teacher's judgement of whether or not the students will do the homework. There are ways to test whether or not they are doing it. As to why teachers are always considering new methods, it is because sometimes they work. There was a time when teachers relied solely on repetition and memorization of facts, figures and formulas, but teaching has evolved beyond that to methods that help keep students more engaged. Maybe all this approach does is give teachers one more way they can vary their lessons to keep their students interested.
Ryan Buncher (Editor) March 28, 2013 at 03:49 AM
John, I would suggest checking out some of the videos I attached that explain where the idea came from and how it works in a little more detail. I don't think this is intended for use at the elementary school level.
Michael W. Connell, Ed.D. March 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM
Beyond the model of video at home + worksheets in class, there is another (more nuanced) version of the flipped classroom emerging. It looks like this: students work at their own pace on an adaptive curriculum using an iPad, and teachers monitor their learning in real time on a web-based dashboard. Teachers can see when students are struggling and need help (without them raising their hands, which they don't like to do) and when they are sailing along and shouldn't be interrupted. They can also see what specific concepts or skills are holding up a group of students and pull those children into a small group for extra support on those concepts. This is happening successfully even at the Pre-K - 1st grade level right now, for example, with an app called "Native Numbers" that develops number sense. Here's a video overview of the adaptive mastery-based curriculum: http://bit.ly/WkudVH You can see the instructor dashboard at www.nativebrain.com/dashboard.
SeeThroughNY April 02, 2013 at 12:38 AM
What about those homes that cannot support a "flipped classroom??" And what about the new system of teacher evaluations that this fine administration is implementing? How can teachers be held accountable for learning that is supposed to be taking place outside of the classroom? The way we evaluate teachers and look at education as a whole needs to be changed before we can use ideas like this.

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