Flipped Classrooms in Plymouth

As technology increasingly spills into traditional classrooms, teachers are beginning to adapt how they use it—and students are reaping the rewards.
Providence Academy students Matt Rastetter, left, and Antonella and Nick Manciu use iPads as part of a flipped classroom environment.

Teachers are no strangers to their students dreading necessary homework. As a result, many have begun “flipping” their classrooms and teaching methods in an effort to not only lessen the amount of traditional homework, but also make learning in general more efficient.

A flipped classroom is essentially a method in which the class structure has been reversed, with kids watching longer lectures at home (typically on an iPad or computer), allowing them to work on more troubling problems in class.

Providence Academy and Wayzata High School are two schools that have begun implementing these techniques and have offered the following 10 tidbits and tips, highlighting the benefits of a flipped classroom.

An opportunity for self-paced learning. Students can watch course lectures as much or as little as they need to grasp the material. “Not everyone learns in the same way or at the same pace,” says Karen Burkhartzmeyer, middle school Latin teacher at Providence Academy. “It’s important for teachers to differentiate instruction whenever possible, and it’s important for students to practice being independent learners.”

Classes tailored to individual needs. Students work through individual questions with teachers and peers during monitored class time at school. “It promotes self-learning and investigation,” says Jeremy Prickett, a Wayzata High School math teacher. “I can help students with specific curriculum that they might have trouble finding help with if they were doing the problems at home.”

Collaboration and group work is encouraged. Students are able to work through problems together in teacher-monitored work sessions. “When a student attempts to explain a math concept to another student, they always increase their own understanding,” Providence Academy math teacher Ben Blackhawk says.

Engage students through technology—which they are very comfortable with already.
When class preparation outside of class time involves watching videos from a device they already have with them, students are more engaged in homework and tend to learn the course material more effectively, Blackhawk says: “By making my course accessible on their personal devices, I have made it easy to start homework, because most students use their devices constantly anyway.”

Motivate students to play a more central role in their education. In many classrooms, the teachers are working harder than the students, and while teachers are a very important part of the process, students need to practice and engage in learning and knowing how to find what you need to know, Burkhartzmeyer says. Teachers say this approach encourages students to embrace a sense of accountability for their own education.

Outside-of-class help is available 24/7. In traditional classrooms, help is only available at certain hours. In a flipped classroom, lesson videos are always available. Students can hear and watch explanations any time, day or night. “My students still get support from me, even if it isn’t face to face,” Prickett says.

There’s an increased opportunity for parental involvement. With access to lectures at home, it’s possible for parents to gain a closer look at their student’s coursework, too.

More efficiency in problem solving. “I spend far fewer hours helping students who are behind, because they have the material available to them on an organized website. Their questions tend to be quick and easy to answer,” Blackhawk says.

Progress is easy to monitor and track.
Utilizing online lectures and quizzes allows teachers to easily manage student participation, performance and progress.

An enjoyable learning environment. A flipped classroom is different from other models, which in itself makes it enjoyable and motivating. It’s an engaging and interactive approach to education that breaks up the monotony of a normal school day.


Providence Academy

Wayzata High School