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This Struggling School “Flipped” the Classroom — and Grades Have Never Been Better

Six years ago, students at Clintondale High School were struggling. Really struggling. In fact, the school was named one of the worst in Michigan in 2010 — with a failure rate of 35%. But Principal Greg Green wasn’t willing to accept these numbers. He wasn’t willing to accept defeat, and so he fought back. He made a radical decision to “flip the classroom.”

The premise behind the “flipped classroom” is simple: Instead of listening to teachers lecture in class and then completing assignments at home, students watch online lessons before class and then complete homework, exercises, and other projects at school. And while the “flipped classroom” is a relatively new pedagogical model, it is quite promising. In fact, in just one year, the freshman failure rate at Clintondale was reduced by 33% in English, 31% in math, 22% in science, and 19% in social studies, and after two years college admission rates rose from 63% to 80%.

In fact, as Green told NationSwell, the idea to “flip the classroom” came from Clintondale students themselves:

“[The idea to ‘flip the classroom’] really came out of a discussion with students about what needs they had. And a lot of the students said that they didn’t have the necessary tools or the experts there when they were doing the actual work. [Because when it comes down to it] it’s not about a video. It’s not about the technology we use. It’s simply about the amount of support and how much activity you do with the kids in class.”

After seeing the popularity and success of the “flipped classroom” program at Clintondale, hundreds of schools across the country have adopted this model — including, most recently, Massachusetts’ Holyoke school district, which made headlines in August when it announced plans to adopt a “no homework” policy for the coming 2016-2017 school year.

And, as Green explained to Techsmith, this is phenomenal because Green “truly believe[s] that this model has the potential to redefine how we deliver learning and education:”

“I believe it provides an engaging and interactive way for teachers to facilitate learning, rather than delivering content through lectures. This in turn gives students the opportunity to process the content in class, together, as a group! They can ask questions, they are more engaged in learning, they are less frustrated, and I’ve seen massive improvements in grades. I lay awake at night feeling like I have found a way to fix some of the huge problems we face in our education system. Now I just need to tell everyone who will listen.”

(Wow. Just wow.)

So keep working, Mr. Green; keep fighting; and keep being an advocate for your students and the United States educational system because we are watching. We are listening.

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