Students do homework in class, lessons at night in flipped classroom

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LONE TREE, Colo. — The flipped classroom is a whole different approach to learning that some argue can improve grades, and maybe even free up some extra time at home.

It’s an alternative teaching model that was largely pioneered here in Colorado, and its gaining attention across the country.

Alicia Pepe, a 5th grade teacher at Lone Tree Elementary School, is one of the teachers who has made the change.

Here’s how it works: Her students will watch a video at home to learn the basic concepts of the lesson. Then the next day in school they will work together on projects to deepen their understanding, with their teacher there to help.

Pepe said this model gives her more one-on-one time with the kids, and she’s seen a real change in their engagement.

“Before it had been very dry for me to standup in front and just lecture to them. Now they are engaged in what they are doing. They are communicating with each other,” Pepe said.

She’s using the model for social studies and math, and says she is seeing real development, especially in math.

“The majority of our students are able to grasp those concepts much more quickly,” she said.

The Flipped Learning Network estimates 3 percent of teachers now flip their class, and a recent survey by found 85 percent of teachers surveyed who flipped their class had seen improvements in grades.

But not everyone is buying in.

This model does require technology, and some parents don’t want their kids learning from a video. Plus some believe more research is needed.

“We had a little bit of push back at the beginning when we first introduced it, because it was a very different concept,” Pepe said. “But the feedback I’ve received from parents recently is that they really enjoy it.”

The Holmes family is embracing the idea. Their daughter Morgan is in in Pepe’s class, and seems to be doing well.

“I really like it,” she said.

Her father thinks it’s a great way to improve on the learning experience, and it helps him and his wife as well.

“It’s less time for me because she is more self-sufficient,” Derick Holmes said. Most importantly, the family says the flipped classroom has helped Morgan to learn.

The flipped learning concept was largely pioneered by two Colorado teachers named Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams.

They’ve received a lot of national attention over the years.

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