Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lectures at night, “homework” during the day.

I will never forget the story of a high school student in the district I just retired from, being bored with a lecture from a professorial teacher, and quite sure he was making errors in his data on the topic at hand, used her smart phone to disprove the teacher's lecture. She snuck her phone out of her back pack and researched the data that proved her contention, the teacher was making up data. 

Another time, as a supervising superintendent, I was walking down the hallway of our middle school and saw two boys reacting to something they were looking at on their smart phone. Seeking to find out what the gist of their discussion was about, I crept up closely behind their backs to discover they were actually discussing the Roger Clemons deposition they were reading off the NY Times. 

Both examples demonstrate the insanity of continuing to assume that kids are clueless about information, and they should be viewed as a sponge, ready to absorb information only provided via a "master lecturer"/teacher.

This week, I read an interesting editorial in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, that demonstrates my opinion about this kind of a teacher. It caused me to fall back on my never-ending appeal to move our 19th Century instructional models into a 21st Century mindset, once again. 

"Just months after the National Center for Education Statistics released its devastating portrait of a nation where less than one-third of public school children have proficiency in geography, a college professor lamented to me that his recent teacher graduates were convinced that such knowledge [geography] was unnecessary because GPS systems and Google Earth programs are easily accessible on smartphones." (Cepeda, 2012).

The image of that excerpt, once again presents the ludicrous idea that we should continue teaching children who are being prepared for a 21 st Century future using the tools of 19th Century instruction, namely, lecture, lecture, test, quiz, lecture, homework. This also brings me to remind people that the 21st Century instructional model is needed now, more than ever.

                                                                                                                 (Sheninger, 2011)

Flipping the instructional model is necessary, and school leaders need to begin pressing the model more and more. According to Bergman and Sams (2011),  "One of the greatest benefits of flipping is that overall interaction increases: Teacher to student and student to student.  Since the role of the teacher has changed from presenter of content to learning coach, we spend our time talking to kids.  We are answering questions, working with small groups, and guiding the learning of each student individually."

The idea that teachers become mentors and facilitators, and students become the center of their own learning is not unique, but a model hardly used in public schools, mainly out of ignorance and fear.  "The role of the teacher has changed, to more of a tutor than a deliverer of content, we have the privilege of observing students interact with each other.  As we roam around the class, we notice the students developing their own collaborative groups.  Students are helping each other learn instead of relying on the teacher as the sole disseminator of knowledge." (Bergman & Sams, 2011)

Bennett & Kern (2011) outline what a typical flipped classroom looks like:
  • Discussions are led by the students where outside content is brought in and expanded. 
  • These discussions typically reach higher orders ofcritical thinking.
  • Collaborative work is fluid with students shifting between various simultaneous discussions depending on their needs and interests.
  • Content is given context as it relates to real-world scenarios.
  • Students challenge one another during class on content.
  • Student-led tutoring and collaborative learning forms spontaneously.  
  • Students take ownership of the material and use their knowledge to lead one another without prompting from the teacher.
  • Students ask exploratory questions and have the freedom to delve beyond core curriculum.
  • Students are actively engaged in problem solving and critical thinking that reaches beyond the traditional scope of the course.
  • Students are transforming from passive listeners to active learner.
Noted author and futurist, Daniel Pink describes the idea even further, where "instead of lecturing about polynomials and exponents during class time – and then giving his young charges 30 problems to work on at home – the teacher has flipped the sequence. He’s recorded his lectures on video and uploaded them to YouTube for his 28 students to watch at home. Then, in class, he works with students as they solve problems and experiment with the concepts."

Lectures at night, “homework” during the day.

What a unique and refreshing way to get students to be the initiator of learning, motivated to create their future with creativity and innovation.

Bennett,B. & , J. Kern, A. Gudenrath, P. McIntosh. (October 11, 2011). The flipped classroom: What does one look like? The Daily Riff. Retrieved January 3, 2012 at

Bergman, J. & A. Sams. (November 8, 2011). How the flipped classroom was born. The Daily Riff.  Retrieved January 3, 2011 at

Cepeda, E. J. (January 3, 2012). Behind the wheel, under the knife- mobile devices are here to stay. The News-Journal. Daytona Beach, FL. Retrieved January 3, 2012 at

Pink, D. (September 10, 2010). Think Tank: Fliip-thinking- the new buzz word sweeping the US.  The Telegraph. Retrieved January 3, 2012 at

Sheninger, E. (August 8, 2011). An open letter to principals: Five leadership strategies for the new year. Edutopia.  Retrieved January 3, 2012 at

The Flipped Classroom [infographic]. Retrieved on January 3, 2012 at

No comments:

Post a Comment