See You on the Flip Side (of the Classroom)

By Jia Williams, Opinion Editor

You glance up at the clock, racing against time as you furiously copy down the last of the problems. Your hands are sweating and the pencil slips out of your grasp. The teacher is coming up behind you, reaching for your homework. You scribble down the last word and hold it up for him or her to collect, wiping off the sweat from your brow and exhaling the breath you didn’t know you’d been holding. Most students have been in this position before: completing homework in class instead of at home as its name suggests it should be. But what if this was the way classes were supposed to be taught?

There is a name for this method, and it’s called the Flipped Classroom. In these flipped classrooms, teachers assign video lectures and textbook readings for students to take notes on at home so that class time is more interactive. The goal is to give students an opportunity to ask teachers questions while they practice what they learned from their homework.

But many students have mixed feelings about this unusual way of learning. Courtney Maheu (12), thinks that it is best used only in certain classes like math, science and history.

Mrs. Robinson, the AP World teacher, does a great job of a flipped classroom,” she said. “I think that the best way of learning is applying and using your knowledge in class. Flipped classrooms gives me a chance to understand the material better because I’m answering more in-depth questions, unlike the easy examples we used to do in class.”   

On the other hand, there are students like Julia Tan (10) who has taken two classes with this format, AP World History and Geometry, and is strongly opposed to learning this way.

“I have a tendency to procrastinate, and I most likely wouldn’t watch the lesson, which is worse than not doing homework” she says. Other students share the same sentiment and believe that the method only works well for students with strong work habits.

In recent years, more and more teachers have adopted the use of a flipped classroom. Physics teacher Mr. Dasbach, implemented a flipped classroom in 2013. He believes that the method improves work habits because “the students often go home, and they’re working on something they don’t know how to do, and they can’t ask for help, and they get stuck. Whereas, if you’re watching a presentation and you’re taking notes, then you can just stop and rewind. It’s slightly easier to make sure you do that work outside of class, rather than a problem assignment where you may get stuck and not get any help.”  

The benefits of utilizing a flipped classroom are clear, but many students still have suggestions to improve the experience of learning in this new way. For students like Julia who forget the questions she had while watching the lesson and taking notes, they suggest teachers create a Google survey so that students can submit any questions they want teachers to address in class and pull them up to answer in school.

Flipped classrooms are making a splash in school communities across the country. The advancement of technology in classrooms and its involvement in learning has led to innovations in teaching. The future of learning is changing, and the flipped classroom is one step of many.