Niagara Gazette


February 3, 2013

Falls classrooms flipping out thanks to new program

Falls school district among those "flipping" classrooms to boost learning experience

Niagara Gazette — As national testing agencies continue to tell the American people their education system is failing students, an outside-the-box idea is making its way through school districts and turning everything on its head.

Teachers are “flipping” their classrooms in an effort to spend more time solving problems and thinking critically in the classroom setting. And the results seem to show that the effort is positively changing the learning experience. 

In Niagara Falls, instructional coach Ed Maynard found the opportunity to try a new approach to reach his struggling students was too important to pass up.

“We’d tried the old way with them and it failed,” he said. “So we thought maybe we’d try it this new way ... we saw a 20 percent increase in final exam scores.”

Inverted thinking

Maynard heard about the program just before the start of the 2011-12 school year. He created a staff development program based on the concept and pitched it to some of the teachers in the district. He said the reaction was mixed with some teachers vehemently opposed. But the ones who recognized the potential benefits sat up and took notice.

Ed Ventry, who teaches second-level algebra and trigonometry, immediately approached Maynard wanting to give it a try.

“I like that it gives me time to conference with students,” Ventry said. “It’s more one-on-one time I have with them. Before, they’d be working on their homework at home. I’d see the finished product but not how they got there. at the very least, this gives me the opportunity to be able to fix mistakes before it’s too late.

The students aren’t the only ones excited about the new learning style. “There are some days I feel like a first-year teacher again,” Ventry said.

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