I had the great pleasure of spending two days at Warren Township High School in Gurnee, Illinois these past few days. At Warren, there are about 30 teachers who have implemented the flipped classroom. I was there with a film crew from the Korean Broadcasting System while they were filming a documentary on the Flipped Classroom. They wanted to follow me as I worked with a school and I came out of these two days invigorated, motivated, moved, and also quite exhausted.
The Assistant Principal, Chris Geocaris, arranged it so that we could visit eight or nine different classes that have flipped, two sessions where we chatted with a student panel, and one session with teachers who have flipped. All of this was captured on film and I look forward to seeing what becomes of this project.
This probably could be several blog posts, but I wanted to share with you a few of the highlights of my visit.
I observed kids learning in groups, interacting with each other, interacting with their teachers, and just learning. I saw a Spanish teacher give students choice in how they wanted to learn some key concepts. Some chose to play a game, others chose to work on vocabulary, others spoke to each other. I observed a math class where the students were able to get help on difficult concepts. I sat in on several science classrooms where students were not only doing a lab, but understood what they were doing. And I really enjoyed the Sports-Medicine class where students were actively manipulating each other’s legs to simulate things you would do with an injured athlete.
Overall, I saw kids involved and learning. They were not sitting and getting, but instead, were active participants in their learning.
The last event of the two days was a chance for me to sit down and ask questions of nine of the teachers who have implemented Flipped Learning. What I most appreciated about these teachers (besides the fact that they stayed way after school) was how they overwhelmingly see this as a way to interact more deeply with their students. They felt they knew their students better than ever before. When I asked them if they could ever go back there was an explosion of NO’s. One teacher described how she was a reluctant flipper. In fact, she had even ridiculed another teacher who had flipped several years before her. Today, however, she is one of the school’s most prominent voices promoting flipped learning.
The highlight for me was simply chatting with kids about their experiences in a flipped classroom. During the first student panel I had a group of 9th graders who by and large had not been successful in previous classes. Each of them told me how they used to get D’s in classes and now they have B’s and A’s. As they told me this, I could tell that they are taking more ownership for their learning and are interested in school. I think this is one of the most powerful effects of the flipped class. When students gain confidence in their own learning, they are able to achieve so much more.
I was especially moved by two young ladies I talked to while they were in their science class. They told me that they had not been very good at school before. I then asked them if they felt the flipped class had changed their lives. They said: “I now want to go to college.” I then asked them what they wanted to become when they grew up. And they said: “We want to become teachers so that we can help kids like us who haven’t been successful in school.” They told me how their teacher really cared about them, inspired them to believe in themselves and convinced them they could do anything they put their mind to.
I know many of you flipped class teachers have similar stories. I would enjoy hearing your perspective about the flipped class. Do you have a story like this? Please share it with me, I would love to hear it.