New teaching tool turns traditional teaching upside down



MT. LEBANON, Pa. - A new teaching tool is turning traditional teaching upside-down in Mt. Lebanon.

In Pete Bouvy's Honors Algebra 2 class, class time is used for homework, and lessons are learned online at home.

" For many years, I felt like we were going over a lot of homework problems in class the next day and we would take up to half the period going over homework and I thought, 'Why don't we just spend the whole period doing homework and instead, watch the lessons at home?'" said Bouvy.

He tried a technique called a flipped classroom.

He makes and posts lectures online.

Students then watch and learn the concepts at their own pace at home.

They can review the lessons as often as they want, whenever they want, a tool that Bouvy said is particularly helpful when students miss a day of school, have trouble understanding a conncept or want to review for an upcoming test.

"They have a library of videos that they can go back and watch," said Bouvy.

Then, in class, students are prepared to do practice problems.

Bouvy sets time limits and then walks around the class to monitor their progress.

He can tell if students need extra help or are ready to move on to the next lesson.

Mt. Lebanon high school principal Brian McFeeley gives this teaching method an "A".

He believes it's another way to use technology that teens are already comfortable using.

"We are trying to integrate more and more opportunities to use the things we know our kids are using at home in the evening and on weekends and make it applicable to what they are doing in school," he said.

Bouvy started teaching the flipped classroom last school year, and most students have embraced it.

"I actually love it," said Margo Austin. "I have never done anything like this in any of my math classes."

"If you want to study for a test you can just look back to previous information or like what you are doing in that particular unit, so it's really helpful," said Mario Rullo.

There are some concerns with the flipped classroom. For instance, schools using this may need to provide technology at school to students who may not have a computer at home. Also, teachers need to spend time creating the lessons, a new learning curve for them as well.