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Students, parents give thumbs-up to Flipped Classroom

The Flipped Classroom isn’t for everyone, but it’s been well received by Math and Biology students and their parents at Okanagan Mission Secondary School (OKM) in Kelowna, B.C., and was strongly supported by the OKM principal, Scott Mclean.

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As Graham Johnson noted in his personal account of his first year using the Flipped Classroom approach to learning, the feedback he has received from students and parents has been “overwhelmingly positive.” Carolyn Durley, OKM Biology teacher, says she has had no negative feedback from parents. Both teachers experienced student pushback in the early days of introducing the Flipped Classroom approach, which puts students largely in command of their day-to-day learning. 

Cameron McDermid, a Grade 10 student who took Grade 11 Math last year, says Math is probably his strongest subject. He appreciated the fact that the video lesson, usually about 15 minutes long, consumed much less time than presentation of the same material in class, which would typically be accompanied by time-consuming questions from students. Now, he says, “If they have a question, they can just pause or rewind the video. If you understand each part of the video you can just fly right through it without pausing.” 

Erin Gamble, a Grade 11 student who took Grade 11 Math last year, was ecstatic about the Flipped Classroom. Because she had often struggled with Math in the past, she said she appreciated the opportunity to watch the video lessons multiple times if necessary, make notations about things she did not understand, and pose those questions to her teacher the next day. She said she and her tablemates in the class talked about the fact that the Flipped Classroom “was always a good environment and we knew that [the teacher] could help us out a lot and we could probably leave understanding what we were having troubles with.”

Her mother, Leslie Gamble, was equally ecstatic. “It’s just unbelievable, from a parent perspective, just watching my daughter just totally gain confidence,” she says. “It was just amazing to see her actually go from being frustrated to coming through and actually teaching her friends that were going to a different high school Math by watching his tutorial and then she would go through it with them.” 

Scott Mclean was principal at OKM (he moved this year to another high school in the district) when three teachers, including Mr. Johnson and Ms. Durley, asked him if the school would sponsor their attendance at a Flipped Classroom conference in Colorado late spring of 2011. “They were so excited about it that you knew something good was going to come out of it,” recalls Mr. Mclean. When they returned after the conference, he helped them get ready to introduce the Flipped Classroom that fall by finding a handful of laptop computers for each classroom for use by students who didn’t have their own devices.

Mr. Mclean said he views the Flipped Classroom as “a potential game-changer” because learning takes place before the student enters the classroom, allowing the teacher “to broaden and deepen” the learning. “It’s the way learning should be for kids. They take control of their learning and they can work at their own pace.” 

This past June, OKM sponsored a Flipped Classroom conference much like the one in Colorado that inspired Mr. Johnson and Ms. Durley. They expected a turnout of 40 to 50 people; more than 100 attended, many of them from School District No. 23, home to OKM. A number of those teachers have introduced the Flipped Classroom to some or all of their classes this year.

EN BREF - La classe inversée ne convient pas à tout le monde, mais elle a été bien reçue par les élèves de biologie et de mathématiques et leurs parents de l’école Okanagan Mission Secondary School (OKM) à Kelowna, en Colombie-Britannique, et est fermement appuyée par le directeur d’OKM, Scott Mclean.