A local Minnesotan school district is experimenting with a novel way of educating students. Instead of teaching math to kids while they're at school, and expecting them to complete the assignment at home, the school flipped things around.
Lessons are pre-recorded and students are expected to watch the lessons at home. Then during the regularily-scheduled class time, students work on their math assignments individually or in small groups with the teacher standing by to help.
So far, the approach seems to be working extremely well. Teachers quickly learned how to teach to the camera, dvds are available for students without home internet access. And (unsurprisingly) it's dramatically increased the amount of time teachers are able to focus on helping students!
To me, it's shocking that more schools aren't doing things like this. In today's world, the knowledge-dispensing aspect of what teachers do has become a commodity.
The whole model of students quietly learning while a teacher instructs is a relic of a bygone time when that was a student's only way to learn. Teachers were the gatekeepers and they held the keys to knowledge in a world where only a few were truly educated.
But today, acquiring information is not the hard part. Students can spend 20 minutes online and learn how to solve a math problem, or learn about the history of the United States or even dive into the latest scientific breakthroughs.
What the web doesn't offer (yet) is help understanding and synthesizing the knowledge out there. A Wikipedia entry can't sit down with a student, find out why they're struggling and ask the questions that help the student solve the problem on their own. Nor can Google provide encouragement when a student hits a wall or push an outstanding student to challenge themselves.
Those are why teachers are so valuable to schools - not because they can dutifully show a class how to solve a multiplication problem!
Bravo to the Stillwater Area Schools for taking this fresh approach to teaching that takes the realities of the modern world into consideration!