The Herald Bulletin

April 24, 2012

Students learning from 'flipped classrooms'

By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin

PENDLETON, Ind. — Some students at Pendleton Heights High School are learning in a fairly new, nontraditional way.

In a “flipped classroom,” students watch video lectures, or "vodcasts," made by their teachers from home, whether it be on YouTube or the school website. Then, they return to class the next day expected to use the knowledge they’ve learned to complete assignments, quizzes and labs.

“The real benefit of it is when they’re (students) trying to learn content, they have the teacher to help them,” Principal Mark Hall said.

It’s intended to cut out lecture time in class and provide more one-on-one time with teachers.

The concept of a flipped classroom was actually created by high school teachers in Colorado and has been expanding across the U.S.

Hall said it’s cutting edge and that the school is trying it out in a few science classes.

PHHS may continue the flipped classroom in the future and expand it, but Hall said he needs to make sure it’s working first.

For those who don’t have Internet access at home, Hall said they can watch the vodcasts in the library after school.

The flipped classroom just began at PHHS this semester and Eric Powers, an earth and space science teacher, said students are slowly beginning to adapt.

He said the vodcasts maximize hands-on time for the students and “gets them up out of their seats.”

“They can watch it, take notes, come back and work in class or do labs to cement (what’s been learned),” Powers said.

The students are building on material they should know, and if they haven’t learned it yet because they haven’t watched the vodcasts, then they don’t really have the knowledge to do the activity, he said.

He does give those who didn’t watch the vodcasts time to do so at the beginning of the period, but added it cuts into their class time, giving them less time on a quiz or to complete a lab.

Many assignments are also due at the end of the period.

And for those who are watching the vodcasts but are struggling, Powers said he has the chance to walk them through their problems.

It also helps those who have missed class keep up, he added, and frees him to do more labs, some of which may last for days.

That’s time he didn’t have before, he added.

Hall said the flipped classroom helps teachers cover about four times the amount of material that could be covered in a traditional classroom.

Powers said a lecture may take 30 minutes or the entire class period due to the time students need to jot down notes and ask questions.

Vodcasts last 10 minutes or less and students can rewatch them as many times as they want.

That’s something Brett Lowe, a junior, likes about the flipped classroom.

When students are taking notes in class, they may miss some key points, Lowe said, but with the vodcasts, can rewatch lectures to make sure they have everything down.

He and Collin Cook, also a junior, said students can work at their own pace.

“If there’s something you don’t get, you can look it up,” Cook added.

Lowe said the video examples help, too.

Both added they like class to be more hands-on and wish there were more flipped classrooms.

Powers said the concept works well in science and math, where there are more activities.

Just recently, Powers also added Ed Modo, where he can link activities and quizzes for students to do, to his class tools. It looks like Facebook and students can post questions on it. He said those posts go directly to his phone, or students can email him questions.

Powers said it’s all a “complete turnaround” from what teachers had expected before.

He said students used to get into trouble for bringing in cellphones and iPads, but are now encouraged to do so for some classes.

“They can access review at anytime and have notes and visuals to aid them,” he said.

Find Dani Palmer on Facebook and @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.