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Teachers Detail How Alternative Methods Have Helped Their Students

Beyond the reduction of standardized testing under House Bill 5, the House Committee on Public Education is also looking at using more of an innovative approach to teaching.

This week lawmakers heard details about how project-based learning and "flipped" classrooms have revolutionized the way students learn. A "flipped" classroom is when students are assigned a lecture video to watch at home so that class time can be dedicated to projects and activities based on that lesson.  

Teacher Patty Hill, who uses this method while teaching math at Kealing Middle School in Austin, said the passive learning of listening to lectures happens when the student is ready at home.

“During the video lessons students can slow me down by pressing pause, they can re-watch video too," Hill said. "When students come to class they do math, they talk about math, they collaborate, solve problems and apply what they’ve learned from the video lesson, all within the classroom."

Project-based learning is an approach to teaching in which students create the learning experience by exploring real-world problems and challenges. Carl Hooker, the director of innovation and digital learning for the Eanes Independent School District, said this type of learning model has the highest level of retention.

"Five percent of your knowledge is retained due to lecture; only 5 percent," Hooker said.. "And if you think about that, when you become a more active participatory member of learning -- like when you actually collaborate, and share, and create and teach -- you’re actually learning a lot more and remembering a lot more.”

Hooker said rather simply reading a textbook, students using project-based learn to create the textbook. He said Eanes students have authored textbooks, one of which was written by a 3rd grade class on the subject of pioneers and is now available on Apple’s iTunes.