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Fewer freshmen are failing at Clintondale High School, one of the state’s worst performers. Discipline referrals are down. More students are passing the state math exam.

Principal Greg Green credits a novel program that literally “flips” around instruction: Students watch short online videos of lessons at home and do homework in class with their teacher’s help.

“Flipping” is a radical change gaining steam across the nation, with the Clinton Township high school the first in the country to try it school-wide, Green said. The early success has sparked interest, with Green lately lecturing to often packed rooms at education conferences.

“The flip about offering support to our kids,” he said. “That’s key.”

The videos are mostly created by the district and led by the best teacher on a topic. And when kids do homework, they’re getting help from their teacher, rather than parents at home.

Teachers say the method frees up time to make sure students understand.

The school has experimented with it for two years, first with just two classrooms, and last school year with all the freshmen. This school year, it became a school-wide initiative.

“This is what we feel is best for our kids,” Principal Greg Green said.

One expert cautions it might be too early to say whether it’s effective because there hasn’t been enough research at the K-12 level. Still, he’s optimistic.

“It has to be done in a way that the teachers are not just leaving the students to fend for themselves,” said Jeffrey G. Smith, a doctoral student at St. Mary’s College of California who is completing research that, in part, examines flipped classrooms.

Green said flipping allows the school to put the best expert in front of students at all times. The best teacher on a topic makes the online videos, so one teacher can reach hundreds of students.

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And when kids do homework in class, they’re getting help from their teacher rather than parents who might struggle with the material. Teachers say flipping at times quadruples the amount of time they spend working directly with students — ensuring students have a firm grasp of the lesson.

Learn more about the challenges and this radical flip at Clintondale High on FREEP

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