I’m sitting in my hotel room in Chicago right now trying to distract myself from thinking about the keynote speech I have the opportunity to give tomorrow morning at the 5th annual Flipped Classroom Conference. More on that later.
I have seen a recent article make its rounds through Twitter this past week. Without jumping to conclusions, I read the article, and I have to say, I’m disappointed at the connotation the headline is conveying given the content of the article. I know that headlines are often written with hyperbole to garner readers, but this one has continued to rub me the wrong way given that the article tells an entirely different story.
In short, no, the flipped classroom does not put low-income schools at a disadvantage if we approach the problem with innovative solutions. The article even says that:
…Luria realized that none of her students had computers at home, and she had just one in the classroom. So she used her own money to buy a second computer and begged everyone she knew for donations, finally bringing the total to six for her 23 fourth-graders at Rigler School.
At Westside High School in Macon, Ga., more than 85 percent of students are minorities and 78 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Chemistry teacher Jennifer Douglass estimated that about half are so transient they don’t have a guaranteed place to sleep each night. Members of feuding gangs are placed into classes alongside pregnant teenagers, she said, and parent involvement is rare.
With the help of a federal grant that provided netbooks for all students, a handful of teachers in different disciplines at Westside flipped their classrooms and reported that doing so improved students’ grades—and their level of engagement.
All this to say that yes, money is an issue for many districts, but no, it should not derail innovation. Money is available, but we have to start thinking in terms of “What can I do to fix this,” rather than, “There’s no money, so I can’t do it at all.” A defeatist attitude will not help anyone move forward.
I’m so glad that the teachers in the post recognize that yes, money is sometimes and obstacle that needs to be overcome, but no, it is not the end of a tool that does real good for the students. Both the teachers, even without much money, have found ways to work within their means and help their stuents find major success where there was only failure before. They’re great examples of teachers going the extra mile for their students.
I’ve written on the use of class time in the past. Who cares where the learning happens…if they cannot watch videos at home, that does not mean the class isn’t flipped. If the responsibility is put back on the students, whether its in class or out of class, the class has been effectively flipped. Let’s stop seeing money as a barrier and look at it as an opportunity to form new connections or get kids involved in the improvement of their schools.