ONALASKA, Wis. -- Class discussions can be a big part of a student's learning process. And now, students in a few classes at Onalaska High School are going even deeper into those classroom conversations thanks to a new teaching method called "flip teaching."
"It's the whole notion that doing what we typically do at school, which is lecture, and the kids go home and apply what they've learned,"said Gregg Hilker, Onalaska School District instructional technology coordinator. "You flip that so that the lecture is done at home and the application is done at school where there is help and the teacher can facilitate learning."
To be clear, the teacher isn't dropping by each of their students' houses to give them a personal lecture after dinner. Through this pilot program, teachers are able to record their lectures and put them online for students to view.
"When they do come into the classroom then, the ability to ask than what they thought sparks conversations that, once again, if I was just serving it up to them in the transitional sense, I wouldn't necessarily have the opportunity to do it in a classroom that has some time constraints," said Darin Shepardson, Onalaska High School teacher.
Teachers can also have students watch video clips, do online readings, and blog about what they learned through a learning software package called Moodle.
"It structures it nicely in kind of a tidy way so that you don't lose your way going to varying other places online to get that information or to access what the teacher wants the student to use and see," said Hilker.
"They can manipulate on their cell phones. They can manipulate on their iPods. They can get Moodle up anywhere they have internet access," said Shepardson.
Mr. Shepardson started using this new teaching concept in his Social Problems class in January. He said he has already noticed there has been an increase in class participation.
"I'm seeing a lot of participation in the blogs; much more participation that way then maybe asking some of those same questions in the classroom," said Shepardson.
For junior Mike Lind, he enjoys the online conversation because he admits he isn't always the first person to raise his hand in class.
"It's just different doing it online," said Lind. "So, everyone types and everyone gets a chance to participate and see everyone's perspective instead of just the main people that raise their hand."
And just like in a traditional classroom, teachers are still able to hold their students accountable for their homework whether it's done from a text book or online.
"So, for example, if I'm to have them watch a video clip, along with that video clip, I may have them answer a few questions on a blog," said Shepardson. "It's very easy for me to go in and see that they did that. And if they didn't do that, I can shoot them a quick note saying don't forget you need to blog on this, as well."
So, as a few teachers at Onalaska High School continue to move forward with this new teaching concept, they will continue to monitor the progress of the program.
"This is the language that they speak," said Hilker. "These are tools that they use and they use effectively. And if we can better do our jobs as teachers by using these tools, it just makes sense.