There's Something to Be Said for Flipping Not Just Classrooms, But Whole Schools

You may not know what blended learning is. You probably can’t recite all the different categories of blended learning — though you would stand a better chance if you had read Krista Kafer’s paper on The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning in Colorado.

One particular passage in Kafer’s paper highlights the rise of a particular form of blended learning that certainly seems to owe its origins to Colorado:

Nestled in the Rampart Range, the Woodland Park School District Re-2 is home to two high school chemistry teachers whose blended learning model has won them national attention from the premier education reform journal Education Next and other national organizations. In 2012, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams published Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, and have produced a series of webinars about the flipped classroom strategies they use at Woodland Park High School. In a flipped classroom, students watch recorded videos of lectures at home after school hours and spend class time in the science lab applying the concepts they learned the previous night. [links added]

Flipping the classroom is certainly an innovative strategy, but what about flipping a whole school? Lo and behold, it’s been done for a couple years at a school outside Detroit, Michigan. (H/T Joanne Jacobs) A New York Times commentary by Tina Rosenberg tells us that Clintondale High School’s approach of flipping all its classrooms has had some positive effects, even as the student population grows more challenging:

The results were dramatic: the failure rate in English dropped from 52 percent to 19 percent; in math, it dropped from 44 percent to 13 percent; in science, from 41 percent to 19 percent; and in social studies, from 28 percent to 9 percent.

The next year, in the fall of 2011, Clintondale flipped completely — every grade, every class. “On average we approximated a 30 percent failure rate,” said Green. “With flipping, it dropped to under 10 percent.” Graduation rates rose dramatically, and are now over 90 percent. College attendance went from 63 percent in 2010 to 80 percent in 2012.

The consistent finding is the “big improvements in failure rates and in class discipline,” but overall academic performance hasn’t moved a whole lot. I can’t say there are any big conclusions to be drawn from Clintondale’s results, but clearly the program has positively engaged many struggling students. Guess there’s something to be said for flipping classrooms, or even whole schools.

Exit question: Is the story enough to interest you in signing up for an online course in blended learning?