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Cave Creek Algebra Students find success in ‘flipped classrooms’

by Mary Beth Faller - Sept. 4, 2012 
The Republic | azcentral

It’s a scenario many parents have witnessed: Their children become frustrated trying to do homework at night because they forgot the lesson learned at school that morning.

One teaching model that addresses this issue is called the “flipped classroom,” in which students learn the lessons at home, usually online, and then do “homework” in class with their teachers and classmates.

The video model of the flipped classroom started becoming popular around 2000, when many colleges started replacing professors’ lectures with videos, but the concept isn’t new.
Having students read a textbook or article at home and then discussing it the next day is one version of “flipping,” according to Nancy Pratt, technology and instruction coordinator for the Cave Creek Unified School District.

“It doesn’t have to require technology and it doesn’t have to cost anything,” she said.

But technology has created a huge boom in the practice. Many Cave Creek teachers are probably flipping at least some of their lessons during the year, Pratt said.

“In the classroom, teachers are innovating their practices so students have more time to engage with each other and their teachers,” Pratt told the governing board last week. “Teachers always need more time with their students.”

The district will encourage flipping by offering training and support to teachers. A group of about 13 teachers, from kindergarten through high school, have volunteered to be in a pilot program, Pratt said. They’ll meet regularly, share best practices and agree to post their videos on the district’s website.

One teacher who started flipping content this year is Jude Burnett, who teaches at Cactus Shadows High School.

“I’ve been teaching algebra for about nine years and the thing that’s so frustrating is that kids start to ‘fade out,’ ” she said. “Last year, I had a student say, ‘If you could make math like video games, everyone would do it.’

“I started reading about flipped classrooms and it seemed like the perfect solution to the struggle I was having with kids not getting it.”

Burnett videos her lessons and students watch them at night while doing a worksheet at the same time. The next day, they do work in class together.

“If they’re stuck I can help them right away.”

She has had positive feedback from many parents, she said.

“At open house, parents were raving about it because they forget how to do algebra and now they can watch the video and help their kids,” she said.

Burnett had started posting the videos on YouTube, but then switched to Educreations, which is easier for her to upload and for students to access.

She said making and posting videos of all the lessons is a lot of work this year, but the videos will be there next year, though she anticipates tweaking the content for every class.

“I’m doing the exact same thing as I was when I was lecturing, but probably 95 percent of students are thrilled to be doing it this way,” she said.

Interested in the Cave Creek Schools? CCUSD93 is the district for Cave Creek Unified School District : http://www.ccusd93.org/

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