As the Economics class is about to start, students stream into the classroom and begin logging on to Fronter. They all seem to know what to do and soon they are carrying on with their learning, without the need for teacher direction.
This is the personal learning system set up by the Economics Department at St Paul´s School, in São Paulo, Brazil. As the students progress through their learning Mr Cooper Blanks wanders around to each individual student to ask if they need further guidance or just to chat about their learning.
Mr Cooper Blanks has developed a set of learning guides the students follow and their textbook is interactive. This means all learning is delivered through Fronter and students can choose the speed and depth of learning that best suits them. Mr Cooper Blanks is therefore free to act as a coach and mentor rather than lecturer. "The teacher structures the content onto Fronter then we go through it at our own pace, testing ourselves along the way. We are always confident that we know what we need to know," says Antonio one of Mr Cooper Blank's students when we asked if he likes working with Fronter. He added:
We can learn in different ways that suit our individual learning styles. You can't do that with just a book.
By giving his students access to new learning online, Mr Cooper Blanks also empowers the students to take control of their own learning, even beyond the classroom. He says:
Pupils who are excited about learning have access to everything, even on holiday. They can learn in a traffic jam, and there is a lot of traffic in São Paulo.
Mr Cooper Blanks believes the technology is now ready for the flipped classroom and he strongly supports this methodology. "Why would you send pupils home with difficult consolidation, when they can access new information themselves and consolidate this in class with the teacher?" he says as he walks from pupil to pupil talking to them about their goals and explaining tricky economic terms. "When the resources are available online for students to go through at their leisure, there is more time for discussion and strengthening learning in the classroom.¨ But how about the teachers, what is the benefit to them?
The biggest aha moment for the teachers is when they realise how much they benefit from using the Hand-in tool. It is the biggest hassle saver.
One Fronter feature Mr Cooper Blanks has found very useful is its ability to track student activity. "I did a study of the correlation between exam results and how many times the pupils had logged in to Fronter. With the exception of only one boy, the correlation was clear - The greater the log-ins the better the result!"