Flipped Classrooms

A few weeks ago, I showed a 75 minute long documentary to my graduate students. That only left us 25 minutes to discuss it. Next year, I thought to myself, why not assign the viewing of the film before class and then use class time to explore it and a related case study in greater depth.

“Flipping” classrooms is a promising new educational phenomenon. Here is how a New York Times education blogger describes the flipped classroom:

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.

Initial experiences and findings are positive.

My favorite education reform metaphor is an ocean storm. The water surface is dramatically changed by high winds. There’s also unusually dark skies, lightening, and extremely high surf. But the farther you go below the surface, the less significant the changes. Until, on the ocean floor, the animal life, water chemistry, the entire environment is unchanged. In education reform, the teacher-student relationship is the ocean floor. Schools change bell schedules, require uniforms, buy tablets for students, and implement site based management, but the teacher-student relationship remains the same as one hundred years ago.

Flipped classrooms and schools may mix up the ocean floor.

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