Reversing The Classroom: The answer to reverse learning


  Photo By: Sydnee Stannard                                           As students ask questions Ms. Witt is able to answer them and interact with them. This keeps students interested and on task.

As you walk into class, the bell ringer is on the board. After that is finished there is still 60 minutes that are spent with lectures and notes, class examples, bookwork, and discussions. For many teachers and students, 70 minutes is not a sufficient time to complete everything that needs to be done in the day.

“Reversing The Classroom” is a process that is supposed to help teachers and students work better with each other in the classroom environment as well as giving teachers and students the whole 70 minutes in class. The idea is that teachers record themselves teaching and lecturing a power point or a lesson for the day. The student’s homework would be to watch or listen to the lecture while taking notes and during class is the time to ask questions, work through problems and focus on learning the bulk of the information.

Eric Mazur, a Professor at Harvard developed an early idea of Peer Instruction, which is the same thing as reversing the classroom. He believes that a computer will become a major factor in learning, they will not replace the teachers but they will become a major tool. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they have also adopted the idea of reversing the classroom. This allowed students to watch the lectures when they had the time and spend more time in class on things they did not understand from the lecture.

Loy Norrix chemistry teacher Claudia Witt, teaches both advanced placement and regular chemistry. Witt has recently learned about the reverse teaching method. This technique is beneficial because according to Witt who said, “There is someone there to answer questions instead of floundering and even just giving up on a problem.”

The reverse classroom allows the student to have hands on experience with the concepts as well as immediate feedback. Instead of doing homework and other assignments at home, the student has the class time to ask questions, get feedback, check work immediately and also work better with their peers.

A flaw in the technique may be a peer not actually doing the work and students might consider using class time as down time where they do not have to do anything. Loy Norrix senior Thomas Hruska agreed and said, “I would do it but peers wouldn’t.”

Another Loy Norrix senior Alexis Rumph likes the idea because you have the ability to rewind and pause the lecture. She thinks of the idea as a “combination of online schooling and traditional teaching.”

“It could be a really good thing if you have the right motivation and the right kind of student,” Witt explained. It is not necessary to have a new iPad for this process to work, but technology is another issue influencing the success because students need to be able to watch or listen to the lectures. Some students don’t have access to Internet or the time to watch the lectures so they would be behind in class.

The reverse teaching method would take a while to adopt, however it would be beneficial for students that do not really work well in lecture settings. It would especially be good for advanced placement and honors classes because it gives students a better opportunity to ask questions especially with difficult concepts.