A technology-driven teaching method known as "flipped learning" is catching on in schools across the nation as a younger, more tech-savvy generation of teachers is moving into classrooms.
The model is called "flipped learning" because it flips the time-honored model of classroom lecture and exercises for homework — the lecture becomes homework and class time is for practice.
Under the model, teachers make eight- to 10-minute videos of their lessons using laptops, often simply filming the whiteboard as the teacher makes notations and recording their voice as they explain the concept. The videos are uploaded onto a teacher or school website, or even YouTube, where they can be accessed by students on computers or smartphones as homework.
When students come to class, they (in theory) have already learned the day's lesson -- and then spend class time focusing on practical applications of the lesson, while the teacher moves among the class rom to help students who are having trouble.
Although the number of "flipped" teachers is hard to ascertain, the online community Flipped Learning Network now has 10,000 members, up from 2,500 a year ago, and training workshops are being held all over the country, said executive director Kari Afstrom.
The concept has somes downsides. Teachers note that making the videos and coming up with project activities to fill class time is a lot of extra work up front, while some detractors believe it smacks of teachers abandoning their primary responsibility of instructing.
"They're expecting kids to do the learning outside the classroom. There's not a lot of evidence this works," said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, a New York City-based parent advocacy group. "What works is reasonably sized classes with a lot of debate, interaction and discussion."
Others question whether flipped learning would work as well with low achieving students, who may not be as motivated to watch lessons on their own, but said it was overall a positive model.
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