Brighton physics teacher explores new avenues of student learning
Exciting things are happening in Sarah Carlson’s Brighton High School physics classes.
In order to help her students learn more effectively, Carlson secured a $9,999 Innovation grant from the Canyons Education Foundation in December to purchase iPads for her classrooms. She has also been using a “flipped classroom” teaching model since October.
“Education is always changing,” Carlson said. “There are new ways to teach and learn.”
The flipped classroom is a new idea indeed—it’s only been around since 2007. In this revolutionary teaching model, the teacher records podcasts of his or her lectures for students to watch at home, Carlson said. The next day, students do what has been traditionally assigned as homework together in class
Carlson discovered the idea on the National Science Teachers’ Association website early in the fall. With the agreement of her AP Physics class, she first tried the flipped classroom on them, and soon afterwards, the Honors and basic physics classes as well.
The main benefit of the flipped classroom is that it allows students more support from their teacher and peers, whereas if they get stuck on a homework problem at home that their parents may not be able to help them, she said.
The 20 iPads—which will hopefully be in the students’ hands within the next month or two—are intended to further increase the effectiveness of the flipped classrooms, Carlson said. They will enable students without Internet access at home to watch lecture podcasts in class. All the students will prepare presentations and peer tutoring videos on the iPads, and use various physics-related apps to make class time more interactive.
“There’s no limit to what we’ll be able to do with these iPads,” she said.
Also, since the students are already familiar with this technology, using iPads in class will be kind of like speaking their own language to them, she said.
The grant for the iPads is not just about having technology in the classroom; it is also about giving students exposure to the field of physics in ways they would not get with ordinary textbooks, CEF Chief Development Officer Allison Spencer said. For one thing, the iPads are more hands-on than textbooks, and simply more fun.
This is the only the second year the CEF has awarded classroom grants like this, but thanks to some rather successful fundraising the foundation was able to give $72,000 worth of equipment and programs to 10 teachers across the district.
“[The teachers] are really dedicated to bringing innovation into the classroom and making it fun,” Spencer said. “[The grants] are a nice way to enhance what they’re already doing in the classroom.”