Mich. school flips traditional ideas on homework upside down

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- It's 7 p.m. on a school night and Larontay Welton is at home -- and in geometry class. He's part of a new way of learning called the flipped classroom. He listens to lectures at home, and when he goes to school, he does what's traditionally known as homework.

Larontay Welton CBS News
"The teacher didn't get up and say, 'Here's a worksheet, this is how you do it on the board,'" Larontay says. "He said, 'Here's an activity, here's a video to go along with it. We're all going to talk about it and solve any questions or problems that you have.'"

Principal Greg Green came up with the idea while recording videos for his son's baseball team. He posted them online, and the kids watched the videos at home, leaving more time for hands-on work at practices.

"It was increasing their productivity, and they were becoming more knowledgeable, and they were actually watching the videos, so as a principal, I said, 'What if we do this in math or science or social studies?'" Green says.

There are 525 students in the flipped school at Clintondale, where flipping made financial sense. It cost little or nothing to implement. Teachers either assign videos from free educational websites or record their own lessons.

"It's given me the opportunity to be aware of where my students are and how much I can better help them," says Thomas Fiore, who has been teaching at the school for 25 years.

"To me, it felt like the teachers were starting to care more, and it kind of made me break out of my shell, so to speak," Larontay says.

So far, 300 educators from five continents have visited Clintondale to see why the flipped classroom works.

Flip teaching is changing the way students learn
Graduation rates have gone from 80 to 90 percent in the past three years. The failure rate has dropped from 35 percent to 10 percent. College enrollment rates have jumped 17 percent.

Larontay is among those heading to college.

"That's a game-changer for me," he says. "Where I'm from, Detroit, a lot of people see no way out, and Clintondale gave me my way out."

It's been the pathway to pursue his dream of becoming an optometrist.

  • Elaine Quijano
    Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.