Flipping the K-12 Model?

1275249_study_table.jpgThe other day I was hanging out at a friend’s house and noticed their high schooler didn’t budge from the kitchen table the entire time I was there.  Never having seen any teenager sit still for that long I couldn’t help but go over and see what was going on.

It didn’t take long for me to find the problem.  Homework.  Bleh.

As soon as I sat down the kid looked up at me with glazed eyes that told me nothing they were reading was sinking in.  There was no retention going on. None. In that moment it was all about getting it done as fast as possible so they never had to think about it again.

Who doesn’t remember those days?

Well, I couldn’t just stand by and watch someone else suffer the same pain I knew so well from my own time in high school so I offered to help.  Guess what? Not only did the kid have the same frustration that I remember from so many years ago, but I think they also had the SAME EXACT TEXTBOOK.  I cracked open that book and a wave of deja vu hit me so hard I almost fell back in my chair. I’m telling you. It was scary stuff!

1193228_doodled_desks_2.jpgWhich brings me to my question for the day.  This stuff didn’t work when we all took it 10 or even 20 years ago. So why in the world do we think its going to work any better today? Why do we think that our kids who are so plugged in to the digital world will thrive being taught by the same method and textbooks that we hated?

The truth? They won’t! And schools around the country are starting to realize exactly that.

That’s not the exciting part.  The exciting part is what they are doing about it.

Have you ever heard of flipping the model? It’s a new concept, and I love it! With this approach teachers and staff take the traditional school model and literally flip it on its head.

What does that look like? Well, imagine having all of your teacher’s lectures recorded where you could access them on your smartphone or computer. That’s the first step. Then the students literally learn the material out of class by watching these lectures on their own time. By the time they get to class they’ve already heard the material, now they just put it to use. Instead of doing homework at home, they do it at school with their teachers and peers to help.  This approach improves retention by engaging the student and encouraging to apply what they have learned rather than just forget it.

1149240_time_for_math_2.jpgRight about now I’m pretty sure that some of you are more than a little bit skeptical. After all, how could something this radical possibly work?  To answer this question I would point to the case of Clintondale High School in Michigan. They switched to a fully flipped model a few years ago and have seen dramatic results from the change. So much so that their failure rate dropped by over 30% in just one school year.

Not only that but the teachers at Clintondale have been able to offer their students access to some of the best teachers in the world through these recorded lectures. Getting ready to study the Holocaust? Then how about a video from a teacher in Israel who just took her students to tour Auschwitz? Have a student struggling with math? Well then there are videos ready and waiting made by one of the top math teachers in the country. That teacher happens to be at a private school three states away, but that doesn’t matter with the flipped model.

For the first time ever every student can have access to the same level of education regardless of their location or financial status.   And again, the results are amazing.

At this point I feel the question isn’t why are schools considering this model. The question is why wouldn’t they?

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