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Flipping Out: A New Approach Helps Students Learn at Their Own Pace

November 18, 2015

Step into Mark Lovein’s history class at Esperanza High in Orange County, California, and you won’t see him standing at the front of the room lecturing to a silent audience. Instead, he’ll be making his way around the class, checking in with students as they take short quizzes independently or share their favorite moments of a cellphone video about Theodore Roosevelt (created by, and starring, their teacher). Lovein is using the flipped classroom approach to change the way his students think about history class, and this big change is already having big results.

The flipped classroom setup allows students to learn at home and practice in class, instead of the other way around. Every night, they watch a video lecture with the information they need to know, and when they come in the next day, they work individually or in groups, with the teacher on hand to help out. This style gives students the ability to work at their own speed, which is often lacking in a traditional classroom setup - for instance, if a student misses an important detail in the lecture, she can simply press “rewind” and hear it again. As one Esperanza High junior put it, “It’s easy to get caught up, and I feel like the information sticks better.”

It might not come as a surprise that students are excited to use their phones in class. But the real news is that the method is succeeding - Lovein’s students have seen their test scores rise by 10 points compared to last year. “They are totally engaged,” says Lovein, “and the quality of their notes is higher too.” By flipping the classroom, Lovein and other teachers have put the tech - and the power - in the students’ hands, allowing them to take ownership of their learning process and work at the pace that suits them best.