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"Flipping" the classroom: How teachers are turning education around

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WINTERVILLE, N.C. -

South Central High School teacher Victoria Bridgers says all teachers face the same challenge.

"Keeping the students engaged, keeping them from getting bored,” she says.

To grab their attention, she flipped the script by using a new teaching method appropriately called "flipping the classroom."

Here’s how it works: Instead of delivering a long-winded lecture, then assigning homework, Bridgers flips it by pre-recording short lessons and posting them online.

Students watch the videos at their own pace as homework, then come to class prepared to do hands-on activities and in-depth collaborative projects.

"It provided more insight,” says junior Tyler Ropiewnicki. “It allowed me to read the articles more closely because I had classmates relying on my knowledge of this article to pull together with theirs and create a basic understanding of what information we were going over."

But what about the kids who don't have internet access at home?

That’s where "spinning" comes in; Students still watch pre-made video lessons, but do it in class before starting exercises.

In both scenarios, teachers act as facilitators, answering questions and reviewing tough concepts.

"It's definitely more individualized because our teacher's not focused on so much as what slide is next,” says junior Joshua Hokum. “But it's ‘How can I help you? What questions do you have?’"

Still, there's no hard research to support the strategy, with some education experts even saying it doesn't translate to better grades.

But local teachers who have used the method say it works.

"I have seen quiz grades go from in the 60-70 range, to now my students are consistently scoring in the 80-90 range on those same kinds of quizzes, same level of questions,” says social studies teacher Nicki Griffin.

About 20 percent of teachers at South Central High School in Winterville have made the switch. Nationally, the Flipped Learning Network, a nonprofit that helps teachers flip the classroom, reports membership has jumped from just 2,500 teachers to 11,000 in just a year.

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