From Flipped to Student-Centered Classes
Feb 3, 2013 Teacher Training 2442 Views
While more and more teachers are experimenting with the latest classroom concept, the flipped classroom, science teacher Shelly Wright believes that real learning occurs when lectures are actually phased out completely - not just pushed from in-class to at-home - and when students take control of their own learning.
Using the latest in educational technology, flipped classes are meant to exchange homework with in-class projects and class lectures with home-viewed videos; essentially reversing the traditional class structure. Wright has been blogging about her experience with flipped classrooms since last year. Initially, she started to use the flipped method as a way to help her and her high school students get through all of their required biology and chemistry curricula, and she loved it.
"Some shot ahead because they found the initial concepts quite easy. Others needed to hunker down to really grasp them. My students differentiated their own instruction," Wright wrote.
On Monday Wright reported that her brief "love affair" with the flipped classroom had ended - she found that the method was a stepping-stone on the path to project-based and student-based learning. Her students eventually phased out of the at-home lectures entirely, she wrote, and began to take control of their own learning.
"When students own their learning, then deep, authentic, transformative things happen in the classroom," she wrote. "It has nothing to do with videos, or homework, or the latest fad in education. It has everything to do with who owns the learning."
Other teachers have also found that the flipped classroom leads to a more student-centered class learning environment. At South Lake High School in Orlando, Florida, high school algebra teacher Sarah Devereaux has been experimenting with the flipped classroom for several years.
"It takes me out of being the center of the classroom and starts centering the classroom around them," she said.
"Rather than being exposed to content, they're engaged with the content," Devereaux's coworker and high school history teacher Kevin Franklin commented on his experiences flipping his classroom this year. For homework, his students have been watching YouTube videos, and in-class they've been working in groups on projects such as making podcasts about the Byzantine Empire and designing digital collages about Japanese feudalism. The change, he believes, has made his class much more interactive.
According to Wright, however, both traditional and flipped classroom models are too teacher-centered and not student-centered enough.
After using the flipped classroom for a while, Wright felt that she and her students were just juggling the traditional lecture around more than they were "moving forward into a new learning paradigm." However, when she shifted her class into a student-centered learning environment, she found that a lot of them began doing their own research, and finding their own resources: they were leading their own learning.
"What was my goal? I helped them learn to learn," Wright blogged.
"My goal as a teacher shifted from information-giver and gatekeeper to someone who was determined to work myself out of a job by the time my students graduated."
Can this be accomplished with or without starting by "flipping" the classroom? We are constantly looking for the right answer, whether it be the right method, such as flipping; strategy, such as gamification; or right allocation and use of money/advanced technologies. What Wright suggests is that the students are the answer.