The Backwards Class — from The Journal

A fairly new teacher has come up with a way to help her anxiety-ridden AP Calculus students relax more in class. She’s using an approach dubbed by her students as the “backwards classroom.” Results have been remarkable. She credits the method of an increase in test scores and says the teaching style suits motivated students…

What’s the approach?
The students watch pre-recorded lectures the night before the class, when homework problems are traditionally done, then spend the time in class getting answers to questions, working on additional problems with partners, and getting one-on-one assistance from the teacher. No more lectures in class.


Also see:

  • Teachers turn learning upside down — from Meris Stansbury
    ‘Inverted learning’ allows students to practice what they learn under the guidance of their classroom teacher

“The main idea behind the ‘flipped’ classroom is for teachers to be available when students need them most. If I lecture for 30 minutes … in my chemistry classes, that would leave me about 20 minutes to assign homework and let students start on it,” he explained.

Spencer began to create screencasts of his lectures using Camtasia the day before. Those screencasts then became the homework—and class time was for doing “homework,” or answering questions and doing labs/demos.

“Many students are good at ‘playing school’ and going through the motions. Now that they have to demonstrate what they learn before moving on, some of them get quite upset when they scribble down a page of notes from a screencast without thinking about it and then are asked to redo it when it becomes obvious that they are just trying to work the system. Another complaint I have heard [from parents] is that ‘I’m not teaching them anything.’ Many students and parents expect the teacher to be the ‘sage on the stage’ and not a voice on an iPod.”

“My greatest challenge is time. It does take time to set this up and build in the flexibility to meet the students’ needs. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of compensation for extra hours invested, but for me, the investment in our future is worth it.”

His advice to other teachers and schools looking to implement this learning is to “start slow—one or two vodcasts a month is plenty to whet your students’ appetites. Build libraries collaboratively, and don’t be afraid to make a mistake. It is through experimentation and modification that we hone our art of teaching.”