Byron High Turns Traditional Classroom on Its Head

Posted at: 09/09/2013 11:04 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- It's a type of learning we told you about last week, a "flipped classroom." It's where the lecture is done at home and the homework is done in the classroom with help from the teacher and peers. Byron High School is one of the first schools in our area to try it out.

Teachers at Byron High School say they first saw this done by two teachers in Colorado back in 2010. A few months after that, math teacher Troy Faulkner made the switch to this method and says the past couple years prove it is a success.

When we stopped by her home, high school senior Margaret Silhasek wasn't doing homework, but was listening to the day's lecture.  "You don't get stuck on a problem and have to be totally halted for the rest of the night," said Silhasek.

This was a problem that Faulkner was dealing with on a weekly basis.  "When I was lecturing, it was common for me to have students in my room for an hour before school every day of the week and for a half hour after school every day of the week," said Faulkner.

Now, he uses the flipped classroom, where homework is done collaboratively during class hours and the lecture can be watched online at home. "I think it just really takes away from a lot of the frustration," said Silhasek.

"It's nice because students aren't being overwhelmed with information like they were in a lecture because they can pause and rewind me," said Faulkner. He says it allows students to take pauses and learn at their own pace, even replaying the lecture for a better understanding. " I have lots of students that will use the videos as they're reviewing for their tests," said Faulkner. Then in the classroom, they can work out the problems with help from others.

"He's always walking around, answering questions, and he might be answering someone's question next to you and you can listen in and go, 'wow I didn't know that,'" said Silhasek.

"They're emotionally involved because they are trying to defend their answer, they’re getting at the reasons, so they are getting into deeper thought and discussions with each other, which is creating a better understanding," said Faulkner.

After doing this for roughly 3 years now, Faulkner says he has proof that it works. "Classroom proficiency is up by 11 or 12 percent, and what we mean by proficiency is the number of students that are at 80% or above on tests," said Faulkner.

To make sure students are actually watching the lectures and not just showing up for homework help, Faulkner says he'll randomly put them on the spot or check their notes.