For students in Walter Arnold's Advanced Placement Physics class, the nights of hunching over homework for hours with no idea how to figure out electromagnetic induction might be over.
Arnold is the first teacher in the Eastern York School District to "flip" his classroom, a concept that means students complete their homework in class and watch video lectures created by Arnold online at home.
It has meant hours of extra work for the 27-year veteran teacher, but he said he has seen amazing results.
The idea for flipped high school classrooms started in 2007, Arnold said.
"They (students) live with technology," Arnold said. "So why not use it?"
How it works: The 16 students in Arnold's class this semester watch a 10-15 minute video at home with guided notes to complete. Then the students fill out an online "prep check," which is a few problems that show Arnold which students understand the new concepts and which students need extra help the next day.
Arnold said the immediate check is an improvement from a traditional classroom model, when he would try to gauge during lectures whether his students were grasping the lessons.
"It was like guesswork," Arnold said.
But with the surveys online and frequent quizzes in the classroom, Arnold can quickly diagnose which students need extra support with a certain concept.
During the class period, Arnold moves around the room to groups of about four students and gives hands-on demonstrations of physics at work. While Arnold demonstrates the changes in magnetic fields and makes sure students can identify key concepts, the other groups finish homework.
Results: When Arnold compared the current class average to the average of the last five years, he found that on each test, his students are now scoring about 4 percent higher overall.
Arnold said the students at the top of his class are scoring the same as they did the first few weeks during the adjustment period. But the four or five students who were struggling with the beginning concepts are now seeing improved scores.
Arnold said that's because unlike his previous traditional classroom, he now has time to review concepts in the small groups and give struggling students more personalized attention while the other students do their homework assignments.
Reaction: Students have different methods for completing the homework. Some said they finish as much as they can during the class time so they don't take much home. Others, such as senior Calvin Inners, use the class time to ask questions of Arnold and then finish as many problems as possible at home that night, only to return the next day with questions they couldn't understand on their own.
Inners said he likes the setup because it allows him to work at his own pace and collaborate with his classmates to solve a problem.
Arnold cautions flipping a classroom can't be a half-hearted effort. He has a "recording night" at least once a week, when he spends three or four hours creating videos for the upcoming lessons.
Arnold said he still has a lot of fine tuning to do, and he's not "comfortable" yet, because he wants to keep improving the content. But Arnold has been asked to speak at FlipCon14, a seventh-annual nationwide conference about flipped learning. Arnold, 56, said he may have been chosen to speak because he chose to make the change well into his career. Arnold said he plans to talk about the advantages and the challenges to starting the process that he said "rejuvenated" his year.
"If I can do it, anybody can do it," he said.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.