by Cori Hilsgen
St. John’s Prep plans to use a flipped classroom model for the 2013-14 school year.
SJP Principal Matthew Reichert explained that means traditional classroom instruction is flipped on its head.
“Instead of coming to class each day, feverishly writing notes without really absorbing what is being presented, then going home and trying to decipher the information in order to complete a homework assignment alone, this model rotates the process,” Reichert said.
At home the students will watch or listen to short videos, produced by their instructors, which contain the information for that day. While the students are watching or listening to a file they can stop, restart, listen again, slow down, translate or take notes from it. They can also archive the files so they always have that information available to them. In class the next day, students work on hands-on or interactive activities where they apply and combine the content they learned the night before. Students work together with others but also under the guidance of their teacher who can answer questions as they go along.
“So, if you’ve ever sat in a class and wished you could pause and rewind, or wished you could take your teacher home to help you with your homework, in effect this approach does both of those things,” Reichert said.
He explained the model has been an emerging approach for several years but is still relatively new in many schools. SJP is beginning to use the model in its science classes. Several science teachers received a training grant through the Minnesota Independent School Forum to develop a program and receive intense professional training. Several other teachers have begun to use the model, depending on the unit or the project.
Reichert used the model in his history classes when he was gone for paternity leave or conferences. It helped him know students were still keeping pace in his course.
“Our iPad program and our (new) school app will certainly provide an effective support structure for delivering this model of teaching,” Reichert said. “It’s our hope all of our classes will begin to shift toward this model within the next few years, as appropriate.”
Reichert said some of the benefits of the flipped classroom model include increased instruction time teachers have available in a year without adding days to the calendar or hours to the day. It also provides consistency in instruction so every student in a course receives the same information at the same pace regardless of which section of a course they are in.
Students will be able to cover the content at their own pace by rewinding or listening again, which allows each student to adapt the pace of the course to their own learning style and ability.
Students will also be able to go back and review information when they study for exams, complete future projects or have questions because everything is archived.
“This model allows us to get to the most important and most effective form of education,” Reichert said, “(which is) applying the information, synthesizing learning and reaching higher-level learning activities. We won’t get stuck in the rush of trying to cram information into students’ heads.”
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.