In this recurring blog series, we look at the Culture of Innovation at Eastern Christian School. A major Institutional distinctive that sets EC apart as a global leader in Christian Education is that this is a school community and leadership team that takes calculated risks on new, leading ideas in order to more effectively fulfill the mission and Kingdom Impact of the school.
How ECHS Math Teacher Kristen Lightner “Flipped” Her Classroom
You’ve “flipped your classroom” this year. What does this mean?
Basically, “flipping a classroom” means that homework and classroom instruction have exchanged places. Students in this setting are first introduced to a topic via video lesson, which I record and post to a private YouTube channel for our class. They watch this video and master this concept as “homework.” Students come into class having completed a short practice set after watching the video. Once we’re together in class, we’ll do some more creative thinking and go deeper with activities based on what they have already learned at home. We never do the same thing, and students are moving around and changing activities about every 15 minutes. It’s very experience-based, rather than on rote memorization or drilling.
Video: One of Kristen Lightner’s flipped classroom lessons
This is an innovative approach to education! Where did you get this idea?
Certainly not on my own! I’ve heard about it for a few years now, but this school year it came into fruition. I was able to read up on the idea a lot over the summer and discussed it with our principal, Ruth Kuder, and Paul Beverly, our supervisor of instruction to solidify the idea and make it a reality. It’s definitely a new method of instruction at EC for a full flipped classroom, but it’s been around for a few years elsewhere. I would bet though, that many, many teachers at EC have been incorporating aspects of the flipped classroom into their classes for just as long.
Video: – Khan Academy’s “TED Talk” changed the game and has had educators interested in “flipping” classrooms ever since.
What are the benefits of flipping a classroom?
What really sold me on this was the philosophy behind it. Learning has been split into levels: at the bottom are remembering and understanding, while at the top are evaluating and creating. Ideally, we would like students to have that deep top-level understanding, but that doesn’t always happen in an hour and a half class because we only get to the basic understanding. It also begs the question, “Why do we do the ‘easy stuff’ in class, but send the hard work home?” In class, students are more likely to have the resources (teachers, peers, visuals, etc.) to understand more deeply, so instead, do the first understanding at home and go higher-level in class. Hence, the “flipped” mentality!
What are some of the challenges?
Flipping a classroom requires access to technology for all students. We do live in a highly digital age, but not all students have caught up to that at home. Another challenge lies on the shoulders of the students, as they have a large responsibility to do the necessary work at home. All my students signed a contract at the beginning of the year to signify their commitment to be responsible for their work, but if they are not able to complete it, they spend the time in class watching the video and doing the practice.
What has the reaction of the students been? Can you share any testimonials or success stories yet?
When we started this, I was anxious to see how my students would react, but they were very positive and open to something new. What a blessing! It has been very nice to teach a class that already has knowledge of the material before we even start. Every day, they take a short partner quiz on the previous lesson to build up points toward a reward, and I’ve been extremely happy with their results. I’ve had a couple kids tell me it’s “weird” to hear my voice when they are at home, but I haven’t heard any complaints. I think they look forward coming to a class where they do something different every day.
Other “Flipped” Information
Other “Culture of Innovation” Blog Posts: