“Flipping the classroom” — students watch video lessons at home and practice skills in class — has cut the failure rate at Clintondale High near Detroit, reports Tina Rosenberg in the New York Times.
Teachers record video lessons, which students watch on their smartphones, home computers or at lunch in the school’s tech lab. In class, they do projects, exercises or lab experiments in small groups while the teacher circulates.
Principal Greg Green had been using videos to demonstrate baseball techniques to his son’s team, leaving “more time for hands-on work at practices,” Rosenberg writes.
In spring of 2010, he asked a social studies teachers to flip one of his classes. The flipped class had more students who’d failed before, but after 20 weeks, they were outperforming the traditional class.
In the fall, Green flipped all ninth-grade classes.
The results were dramatic: the failure rate in English dropped from 52 percent to 19 percent; in math, it dropped from 44 percent to 13 percent; in science, from 41 percent to 19 percent; and in social studies, from 28 percent to 9 percent.
The next year, the fall of 2011, Clintondale became the first high school in the U.S. to flip every class in every grade.
“On average we approximated a 30 percent failure rate,” said Green. “With flipping, it dropped to under 10 percent.” Graduation rates rose dramatically, and are now over 90 percent. College attendance went from 63 percent in 2010 to 80 percent in 2012.
Test scores went up in 2012 and then dropped. But state education officials say Clintondale added many more low-income, low-scoring students from Detroit.
At first, teachers assigned 20-minute videos, but now they run three to six minutes long to encourage rewatching. Teachers record bite-sized lessons or use videos from the Khan Academy, TED and other sources.
Robert Townsend, who teaches ninth-grade physical science, said only half of his students did traditional homework, but 75 to 80 percent watch the videos.
Flipping has helped failing students the most, teachers say. “It’s tough to fail a flipped class, because you’re doing the stuff in here,” said Rob Dameron, the head of the English department. “I used to have about a 30 percent failure rate in English – these kids come in a lot at third-grade, fourth-grade reading levels. Now, out of 130 kids, I have three who are failing — mostly due to attendance problems.”
Townsend said he feels like an “educational artist” who doesn’t just talk and hand out sheets. “I can create interactive lessons and exciting content. There’s so much more time to educate!”
But “flipped classrooms require more creativity and energy from the teacher,” said Dameron.