Part of what drew science and math teacher Gretchen Greer to flipped learning were the technology resources at her fingertips. “Technology makes my job easier and helps kids to be motivated and make connections,” she says.

In a typical flipped classroom, most of the content delivery happens as homework, through videos of teachers or other experts explaining key concepts. Students watch at their own pace, pausing and rewinding as necessary, and take notes. Then they come to class prepared to ask questions, and engage in small-group discussions and interactive projects.

Greer can make flipped learning work in part because her school, Piedra Vista High School in Farmington, New Mexico, gives a laptop to each student. They access assignments, videos, and resources through her website. PlanbookEdu has replaced Greer’s old paper lesson-plan book; she uses it to upload her lessons and hyperlink to other videos. She uses Remind to send texts and emails about assignments to students (and sometimes their parents). Her students use Desmos to graph functions, plot tables of data, and evaluate equations. Through Three Ring, she posts audio clips of what goes on in the classroom, as well as student work.

Nick Sun, a math teacher and instructional coach who flips his classrooms at Dalton High School in Dalton, Georgia, finds that some students can learn more from an expert at Khan Academy  or Educreations, or from each other, than if they learn from him alone. He’ll ask students to pick a problem they’ve solved and make a video explaining how they got their answer, then share it with other students.

He also uses his website as a place where students can blog, write comments, and engage in an online chat after watching a video. In this non-threatening space, students who might not speak up in class will often answer their peers’ questions.

Greer says that it’s been amazing to see how flipped learning has changed her classroom. Her students say that all these tools make them want to learn. “It’s really how their generation is growing up, and incorporates the technology and 21st-century learning skills that they will need when they leave high school,” she says.

Published in collaboration with Impatient Optimists

Author: Lisa Rosenthal is a freelance education journalist based in Northern California.

Image: Students at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School work on their laptops during a class in Dorchester, Massachusetts June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Adam Hunger.