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Flipped Classrooms Are a Success

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KENMORE — “Flipped Classrooms” are finding success at St. John the Baptist School. Traditionally, students are presented curriculum throughout the day and receive homework assignments to reinforce the topics. This practice has been turned upside down for the school’s middle school program with the introduction of a new instruction model: “the flipped classroom.”

The flipped classroom intentionally shifts instruction from a traditional teacher-directed style to a more learner-centered model. Basically, new concepts are introduced through videos watched by students at home, featuring their teacher as the “sage on the stage.” The next day at school, the classroom becomes an interactive learning environment where students work on practice problems and apply concepts, seek clarification, and engage with one another – all while the teacher serves as the “guide on the side.” This provides students maximum support as they analyze and synthesize the concepts.

“Each night, my students watch a 10- to 15-minute video that I’ve recorded of myself presenting a given math lesson,” says junior high math teacher Hannah Fye. “Whereas in the past, I would have presented it during class, now students being assigned to watch it as homework the night before. When they come into class the next day, they’re ready to apply what they’ve learned.”

The videos combine direct instruction with constructed learning – students are expected to complete sample problems alongside the video they’re watching. “This allows them to spend class time working through any gaps or misunderstandings about the content. Instead of getting halfway through what would have been their homework and getting stuck, they’re able to raise their hand and receive immediate assistance.”

“I used the flipped model previously and I was hoping to implement it at St. John’s,” explains Fye. “We had an adjustment period as we launched the program in September. We spent about a week or so getting everyone ready by working on sample models during class, learning to navigate through Google Classroom, and differentiating between the parts of the videos they ‘simply had to watch’ vs. the parts they were expected to ‘take notes and actually solve problems.’” Fye notes it’s also been beneficial for students who have opted for virtual instruction this year and for students when they’re out ill.

The program is already demonstrating advantages. “I’m providing more one-on-one time for students and stopping misconceptions in the moment, rather than waiting until in the next day.” Moreover, students are able to engage with one another in explaining strategies and developing new approaches for solving problems. Fye adds, “Students are prepared to go more in-depth with their analysis and explanations, too.”

Feedback from the students has been positive. “I like following along with Ms. Fye during the video,” says sixth-grader Natalie Cook. “I think it’s an easier way to learn because she’s right there telling me what it is I need to do (as I watch it).” Seventh-grader Ellie Leonard agreed, adding, “It wasn’t challenging to get used to because Ms. Fye did practice videos in school when we started it, so we knew just what to do. And now, if there’s something that I haven’t quite understood, I could go back to the video and re-watch the tricky parts for reinforcement. I really like it. It’s an easier way of learning!”

Photo – Ms. Hannah Fye assists eighth-grader Catherine Kern after the students watched a video presentation of that day’s lesson. Courtesy of St. John the Baptist School, Kenmore

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