“Flipping the classroom” works for low-income students — if their teachers can come up with the technology, writes Sarah Butrymowicz on the Hechinger Report.
Sacha Luria, a Portland, Oregon elementary teacher, realized her students didn’t have computers at home. She had only one in her classroom. But she was determined to “flip.”
So she used her own money to buy a second computer and begged everyone she knew for donations, finally bringing the total to six for her 23 fourth-graders at Rigler School. In her classroom, students now alternate between working on the computers and working with her.
So far, the strategy is showing signs of success. She uses class time to tailor instruction to students who started the school year behind their classmates in reading and math, and she has seen rapid improvement. By the end of the school year, she said, her students have averaged two years’ worth of progress in math, for example.
Luria’s colleagues are interested — but they don’t have the computers or her begging skills.
At Westside High School in Macon, Georgia, a high-poverty, high-minority school, a federal grant has paid for netbooks for all students. Some teachers are flipping their classes and reporting good results.
Social studies teacher Sydney Elkin said her students’ scores on the Georgia state end-of-course exams increased, particularly for her special-education students. The semester before she flipped her classroom, about 30 percent of all students passed. In her first semester with a flipped class, she said, nearly three-quarters passed, including nine out of 10 special-education students.
Flipping does not solve all problems, though, Elkin said. Some students must still be constantly needled to do their work. And despite second and third chances on tests that act as gateways to the next level, some students still fall behind.
Flipped classrooms are “the low hanging gruit of innovation,” said Michael Horn, executive director of education at the Innosight Institute in Mountain View, Calif., which works to introduce innovation into education.