Flipping the Classroom: Hot, Hot, Hot

By Catherine Gewertz — September 30, 2011 1 min read
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Judging by the crazy-big traffic on our website, people are really interested in this idea of “flipping the classroom.” Our story explores the practice of reversing the typical pattern by having students read lectures and such at home, and use classroom time to tutor, discuss, and do projects that delve into the material and apply it in new ways.

We report that this idea started getting traction at Khan Academy, which has become something of a darling in the education world. But the idea has been getting some major legs: The Economist took it on. A British blog rounds up some of the threads of conversation about it (see here a video of Khan Academy founder Salman Khan discussing it at the TED talks). Two Colorado teachers who are at the leading edge of flipping write about it here, in response to massive interest from an earlier post, and talk about it on YouTube here. Penn State put out a white paper about it earlier this month.

I heard about flipping the classroom long before I ever heard of Khan Academy. And I’m going to venture a guess that anyone with kids heard about it long ago, too. Each of my children, in great outbursts of frustration, essentially proposed this sort of arrangement over the years. Granted, they didn’t call it “flipping the classroom,” and they didn’t have clearly mapped ideas for how it should go. All they knew is that sitting in rows listening to lectures was incredibly boring, and it defied their basic optimism to think that there wasn’t a better way of doing things.

They would occasionally erupt with this sort of thing: “WHY do we have to just sit there forever, listening and answering questions? Why can’t we do something in class that’s actually interesting?”

Makes sense to me. Kudos to the folks at Khan—and anywhere else in this country—who’ve actually gone and done something to change the same-old same-old, and made it better in the process.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.