Flip That Classroom!

Flipped Classroom

Starting in 2010, Marc Seigel, a mere chemistry teacher at Middletown High School South in New Jersey, made his students’ wildest classroom daydreams come true. He not only allowed them, but even encouraged them to use their cell phones during class time.

According to the article “Flipped Out” written by Jennifer Miller, Marc Seigel is one of a few brave teachers who are trying out a new method of teaching called a “flipped classroom.”

The idea behind the whole flipped classroom is that students do homework in the classroom and watch their lessons at home through video tutorials. This allows students to pause or rewatch lessons as many times as they need at their own pace, while receiving more one-on-one time with their teacher and homework help in the classroom.

Seigel even got rid of the cell phone ban at his school and set his students up with Google Apps so that they could upload images of their completed homework from the classroom and keep track of it in an organized folder online.

Sounds cool, right?

However, after a few weeks his students weren’t challenged enough with their video lessons and lost interest in their studies again, so Seigel revised his online lessons to interact with his students.

According to neuroscientist Dr. Gary Small, “Watching video is a passive experience.” It’s the decision making in lessons that activates students’ neurons.

The problem is that the education system's focus is on having students memorize facts, rather than on developing their cognitive skills. This is not enough to prepare students for jobs in the 21st century.

Pretty much, in this fast-paced world students have shorter and shorter attention spans due to the media and technology. Students just aren’t stimulated in the classroom the way that they are outside of the classroom. Our traditional learning models just aren’t cutting it.

The article goes on to say that when students are required to learn or memorize information for a test, they remember this information only when they take the test (as opposed to learning a musical instrument and being able to recall it all the time). Therefore, the information they study does them little good outside of the classroom with this method of mere fact memorizing.

Well get this.

When kids play video games their brains release a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This happens when they experience pleasure. Active participation and decision making is one instance in which this happens. This is the reason why video games are addictive.

The flipped system is like a video game. If you succeed in a video game, you get to another level. However, even if you failed you immediately come one step closer to understanding why. Immediate feedback in school gives more motivation and understanding to students than delayed feedback (the old fashioned school system of having to wait for questions and homework help). Whether students do their homework correctly or incorrectly, they understand why right away in a flipped classroom.

This is why Seigel allows his students to retake tests and emphasizes interactive labs over problem sets. Like a video game, they “replay” until they succeed and understand.

Not a bad idea, huh?

To read the article in full for more details on this innovative idea go to http://www.spiritmag.com/features/article/flipped_out/.