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Class does homework at school

'Flipped classroom' can boost learning, teacher says

The Columbian
3 Photos
Anacortes High School senior Aidan Garcia explains his answer to teacher Cody Anderson during Anderson's AP Chemistry class Jan. 31 in Anacortes.
Anacortes High School senior Aidan Garcia explains his answer to teacher Cody Anderson during Anderson's AP Chemistry class Jan. 31 in Anacortes. Anderson runs a flipped classroom, where homework happens at school. Photo Gallery

ANACORTES — The kids in Cody Anderson’s AP Chemistry class at Anacortes High School rarely do their homework at home. It’s not that they’re “bad students.” It’s that in Anderson’s class, what’s traditionally considered homework is done in class instead.

Anderson is one of a handful of teachers at Anacortes High School to implement a “flipped” classroom, where traditional lectures happen at home and homework happens at school.

In Anderson’s case, he prepares PowerPoint presentations with all of the class notes and lessons beforehand so the students can view it at home as many or as few times as they need to understand the concepts. Then, in class, they do all the problems together.

“The tricky part, which is normally the homework problems, we can work through in class and get help,” said Alex Rodriguez, a senior in the class.

Flipped classroom models are becoming more popular in schools. Anderson said the benefit is two-fold: students can move through the material at their own pace, and more students complete their assignments, because they do them together.

Anderson said this is the second year he has flipped some of his classes. Last year, he said, he saw an overall improvement rate of 15 percent in his students. Some of them, the ones whose grades generally suffered because they didn’t turn in homework, saw a 30 percent rise in their grades.

“I don’t think it’s a magic bullet, because I don’t think there is one in education,” Anderson said. “But it’s a nice strategy to have in your toolbox.”

The flipped classroom model can be easily adapted to different disciplines, Anderson said. Other Anacortes High School teachers have flipped their classrooms for courses such as English, math and environmental science classes.

“It’s more self-motivating,” senior Aidan Garcia said.

The self-motivation part can be tricky, Garcia said. Sometimes, he said, the only way to make sure students actually do their work and are learning is if someone is there making them read through it.

“I think (the flipped model) is good, if you do your homework,” said senior Lia Ferguson. “But if you don’t, you’re still kind of lost. But that’s your fault.”

Anderson said he first heard about flipped classrooms a few years ago, after some AP Chemistry teachers in Colorado had success with the model. After that, he decided to try it on his own.

“I want to try something new every year,” he said. “You can never view that your curriculum is perfect.”

Currently, Anderson said, AP Chemistry is his only flipped model classroom, but he hopes to be able to implement it in his regular chemistry class as well.