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What do you get when teachers are given full reign over a new school's curriculum? At Mountain House High School, a brand new public school in the Lammersville Unified School District, you get an innovative combination of online and in-class support that turns conventional teaching methods upside down. It's called Flipped Classroom.
What Is It And How Does It Work?
Flipped Classroom is an inverted teaching methodology geared toward delivering lesson plans online, independent of the classroom. Classroom time is then spent doing homework and other curriculum-related activities. It allows teachers to eschew lecturing, and instead replaces it with support and facilitation. It also enables teachers to focus extensively on the students who need their help the most.
Relying on video and other online teaching vehicles, Flipped Classroom presents Common Core-aligned curricula and lesson plans that kids can watch at their own pace from any remote location. Kids without internet access at home typically work from libraries or on school computers. The classes generally do not require the use of any textbooks too, which saves classroom resources.
At Mountain House, a two-year-old high school north of San Francisco, the program was originally met with skepticism from parents and students alike. But the process has taken off and so has learning.
"With Flipped Classroom, teachers can design the curriculum and go much faster, creating a mastery-learning model for kids," says Brian Gervase, a math teacher at the school. "I can put up the entire term's curriculum as online videos or video pods at one time. The kids who want to go faster are able to do so and the ones who want to go slower get to do that too."
The students convene in class each day to participate in interactive activities in small groups designed to produce mastery of the concepts presented. Kids of varying mastery levels can work together with the teacher's supervision.
"I can send students home with a video of the lesson plan or the whole curriculum. They come back the next day and do the 'homework' in class. This way I'm not talking at them. I'm working with them," says Gervase. "It's almost like they are taking an online class and I am a resource."
Flipped Classroom also provides a support network of students and teachers online, so kids can connect with their classmates for further support.
"By working intimately in small groups and accessing support online, kids do not experience the disconnect inherent in a too-large classroom," says Gervase. His entire school is in the process of converting to this approach. And he says the results are speaking for themselves.
Two other California schools that have either adopted Flipped Classroom, or are in the process of fully adopting it, are Segerstrom High School in Santa Ana and Sacred Heart Cathedral High School in San Francisco.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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