As I was browsing the internet this morning, I noticed a new discussion has been posted on the Vodcasting and Flipped Class Network. It was a forum post by Greg Green, principal of Clintondale High School in the metro-Detroit area. With all of the work I've done with building a flipped class, this quickly stood out to me and I immediately began reading in earnest.
Some background: Greg's school is 72% free and reduced lunch and has a minority base of 65% African American and 35% Caucasian in the school. He didn't provide many details about the project in his original post, so I wrote him an e mail. I mentioned that I had done some presenting on the flipped class and that I was curious to hear about the decision making process that was involved in deciding to flip the entire school in one go. Here's what Greg had to say in his response:
We actually developed a pilot class in Government/Economics with our most at-risk students. This class flipped and we kept a less at-risk class more traditional. At the end of the pilot we found the at-risk class outperformed the regular class. We used the same teacher and the same assessments. Every student did every assignment!! Next we decided to flip our most at-risk group of students...9th grade. Within our 9th grade we have reduced our failure rate in ELA by 33%, Math 31% Science 22% and SS 19%.
This is evidence of the flipped classroom at its best. Greg has given the support to teachers to make an effective change in a difficult situation. He went on to say:
With our flip, I have found that the flip classroom aligns our school resources with our students needs. In a traditional school, we ask students to process, inquire and develop their skills outside of class. However, with an at-risk student how do they do that[?] So it was pretty clear that we had to flip our classrooms to meet the needs of our students.
This is a man I want to meet. Greg understands that the entire purpose of education is to meet the needs of the students, not to have comfortable, routine-driven teachers.
One of my biggest questions had to do with the enormous undertaking of recording the entire curriculum for the next school year. Greg explained that the school (as a whole, cooperative unit) was "...creating screen captures as departments and automating the delivery of those captures out to our students." Cooperation in this task is essential for effective implementation and I want to commend the entire staff for setting a great example of a functional, cohesive school working together for student growth.
For those crying out "standardization is bad!" here is some food for thought:
This keeps teachers from varying from the curriculum and allows us to effectively evaluate our learning within the classroom because our delivery of our message has not varied.
Standardization of content helps students make long-lasting connections that will lead to higher order thinking. This is a great example of standardization at its best. Teachers still have the autonomy to make their own decisions about the class, but now, the entire faculty knows what to expect from every student at the completion of every year.
Finally, if you're thinking, "This would be great if I were in a 1:1 school, too," this is Greg's closing thought:
We do not have a 1:1 student to technology ratio. Technology and presentation tools have been purchased for the classrooms instead of textbooks to stay well within budget.
The money is there. The technology resources are available. All it takes is a vision for something bigger and better than what has done in the past to make significant changes in kid's lives.
Congratulations Greg and staff of Clintondale High School. You are modeling effective education and I hope, someday, to be able to set as good an example as you.
If you're interested in finding out more about Greg and Clintondale [Flipped] High School, you can follow their journey here.