January 30th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Answers to your ‘flipped school’ questions

Courtesy Troy Stein by Greg Green, Special to CNN

Editor’s note:  Greg Green is the principal at Clintondale High School  in Clinton Township, Michigan. His guest post on this blog titled “My View: Flipped classrooms give every student a chance to succeed” generated more than 500 comments and was shared thousands of times on social media.  In this post, Green offers answers to some of the questions you asked the most.

The response to my guest post last week about flipping the classroom on CNN’s Schools of Thought blog was overwhelming and thought-provoking. While I appreciate that there are varying opinions, I would like to respond to some of the topics that were frequently brought up in the comments section, to provide some further food for thought on the issues.

1. Does the flipped model replace teachers with video? Does it turn teachers into classroom monitors rather than actual teachers?

There were many comments on the role of teachers in the flipped model, some questioning whether the flipped classroom replaces teachers with video instructions. I would argue that the opposite is true. The flipped instructional model makes teachers more valuable in the classroom. They are no longer just delivering information during class, but facilitating learning and comprehension with their students and providing one-on-one instruction.

Teaching is one of the only professions where people are expected to be experts in everything. In other jobs, people specialize in certain areas. Teachers, just like everyone else, are interested in certain subjects more than others. If a math teacher at our school also happens to be a Civil War buff in his or her spare time, why not have that teacher create a video lecture on the Civil War? And if one math teacher is better at explaining calculus while another specializes in geometry, why not have them share lectures with each other? Sharing knowledge this way and making it available 24/7 online benefits everyone. It enables our students, partners and guardians, and even community members, to learn by giving them unlimited access to information.

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Filed under: Practice • Technology • Voices
January 30th, 2012
07:05 AM ET

Virtual schools on the rise, but are they right for K-12 students?

by Athena Jones, CNN

CHANTILLY, VIRGINIA (CNN) - It's a Tuesday morning in January, and seventh-grader Katerina Christhilf is learning algebra. But it's no ordinary class. This one takes place entirely online, led by a teacher a few miles away.

As part of her training to become a ballerina, Katerina takes dance lessons four times a week, including up to eight hours on Fridays. All that training makes it hard to go to a conventional school, so she takes science, literature, composition, vocabulary, history, music, art and French - a full course-load - from the comfort of her home, through Virginia Virtual Academy, a program run by K12 Inc. that began operating in the state in 2009.

"Ballet is really important to me and it's usually in the mornings, so if I went to school I would only be able to go on the weekends," Katerina explained. "Sometimes I'll study in the morning and I'll do a few classes and then I'll go to ballet for maybe like three or four hours and I'll come back home and I'll do some more."

Katerina is one of a growing number of students who go to school online full time. About a quarter of a million students in kindergarten through 12th grade were enrolled in full-time online schools last year, according to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a 25% increase over the previous year. Some parents choose these schools because their children are struggling in traditional schools; others do so for their flexible schedules.

But as the number of students learning online full time has grown, so have questions about the effectiveness of that approach.

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Filed under: At Home • On air • Practice • Technology • video