October 13, 2013 - Fort Collins, Colorado
Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann, two chemistry teachers in Woodland Park, Colorado are at the forefront of a revolutionary idea in education that may improve all our schools. They wrote a book entitled "Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day." Their idea is to have the students view the explanation of the concepts being taught over the internet using prerecorded lectures, while using class time to work on what has been traditionally known as homework such as a set of problems or a project. This approach has the following advantages:
1. Students can watch the videos with parents or other household members which allows for these other persons to help explain the concepts exactly as they are being taught.
2. The students can listen again and again to areas that they are having difficulty with.
3. Students are not subject to the classroom distractions while the concepts are being taught. For some kids the most important thing in the classroom is what other students are thinking, not what is being taught.
4. As teachers are observing the students solving problems or working on projects, they can assist students individually on just those points where they are not understanding the concepts. The students in class are doing and asking questions, not just spectators to lengthy explanations (lectures).
5. If students are going to not do their homework it is better to miss the lecture (those students who do not do their homework are also probably not paying attention in class) than missing working out the problems. By working on the problems those students will learn the concepts anyway.
6. In traditional classes, teachers focus on those who ask the questions, not those who are silently failing. With the new flipped teaching method everyone is working on problems all the time, so it is much more difficult to silently fail.
7. The internet is developing a huge library of lectures on various concepts. The teacher can add their own lecture or choose to assign one of the many on the same concept that may be done by someone who is far more gifted in explaining those concepts. Gifted teachers are being noted on the internet. The best gain "rock star" status. Students anywhere on the planet who have access to the internet can learn from the best teacher on the planet.
A new idea like this is not likely to make every student brilliant. The great thing about a new idea is that it spurs excitement as people try different ideas and emphasize different ideas to improve performance. Too bad we cannot get new ideas and excitement into the governance of our country.