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The Homework Hype That's Surrounding Flipped Learning

By Naimish Gohil on July, 13 2013
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Flipped learning is fast approaching our schools in the UK, but what are your thoughts on the process?

The Washington Post and the New York Times speak of the flipped classroom as the innovation of the year (2012) for K-12 schools. Teacher originators Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, in their recent book Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, discuss details behind this concept. In a nutshell, the flipped classroom is a form of blended learning where the students learn online part of the time while physically attending school at a facility part of the time. Normally, students view class lessons online at home. If they do not have access to technology, they can watch the assigned ‘homework’ at school during a homework period or after school in a ICT room. The traditional school model as we know has been flipped!

Well then, if the instructional model at school has been flipped, then you would think that the purpose and method of homework would also be affected. That’s true… the homework model is also flipped. Homework now is made up of a series of lessons, built-in quizzes, videos and PowerPoint presentations delivered to students outside of class. In class, teachers offer assistance as needed. Their role has changed, too. They serve more as guides to learning as the students apply what they have learned online. This teaching model in schools has been replaced. Class time is spent practicing problems, discussing issues and working on relevant projects. The theory behind the flipped lessons model is that more in-class teaching can be offered to students to maximise their individual learning needs.

Another plus for flipped lessons is that the homework can be reviewed over again or fast-forwarded if a student understands the material. Proponents of this model argue that this method gives students greater engagement in their own learning, not just at home but at school. Several teachers build in quizzes and other measures that necessitate the student to actually complete the homework. This prepares them for the next lesson. Parent role in homework also shifts. There is less demand for the parent to know a particular skill and to understand enough of this skill or concept to teach it. This possibly leads to a healthier relationship between the child and parent. There is less badgering to get work done and less frustration in trying to have a parent teach something they know little about. Many parents attest to their lack of patience in being able to teach their own child and this skill is not necessary with the homework design associated with this model.

Instead, the parent still assumes the role of enforcing that homework needs to be completed. This means the parent monitors the student to make sure the assignment is written down and completed. It also means that if the students don’t understand any part of the visual online instruction, that they review it or use methods to review. Perhaps flashcards are made up of harder concepts or the student writes a summary of the content. It routinely means that student makes a list of questions about the homework to ask in class the next day. What is it that I do not understand in the lesson or the video? How do I exactly do what is outlined in the PowerPoint? What is meant by so and so? And, certainly it means that homework quizzes (along with any other performance indicators) are completed after careful review of the material.

The proponents of flipped classrooms believe this mode of teaching is causing an impact on the educational system and in turn a positive impact on students. Although the concept is relatively new, and it may differ in contexts and across communities, some argue it is difficult to pinpoint the direct benefits to student learning, the population it benefits the most and the guidelines for implementation.

However, who can argue with the components of a guiding teacher, engaging classroom activities with more time for question and understanding and informative/relevant homework? Add in a willing student and a supportive parent who oversees the student attending and completing the homework, you have a working model in education.

Next: Research into the Importance of Homework

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