Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One teacher's adventure into the Flipped Classroom (High School Edition)

Jared Brandt, Math teacher at Campbell Collegiate, has been using the flipped classroom model in his math instruction this year.

Here is his perspective on what the flipped classroom has to offer:

This semester I attempted what many are calling a “flipped classroom.” The most basic idea behind this model of teaching and learning is that the roles of instruction and work are reversed – students learn at home and work in the classroom. This affords students many benefits, such as learning at their own pace, a private learning environment, and having the opportunity to ask more questions and have more personal contact time with the teacher during class.
This semester I attempted to implement a fully flipped classroom by making much of my course material available online. This includes instructional videos, uploaded to YouTube, most of our class assignments, and also quick “Exit Slips” after each video. During class, we deepened our understanding of the concepts through discussion, activities, and working on practice problems.
Throughout the semester, there were some ideas that worked well, and some that didn’t. First, the things that didn’t. It became rapidly apparent that this model works best with self-motivated students. To this day, I still have one or two students that have not watched a single video. It looked like completing the exit slips was so arduous, that quality and attention to detail waned consistently over time. As a result, many students were coming to class not fully prepared, and I believe that this hurt them in the long run.
Now let us discuss the positives. It is also clear to me that more than a few students do have the self-motivation that makes this model work. These students were the type that took this and ran with it. They watched all the videos and completed all the exit slips, with evident higher-order thinking. They came to class prepared, worked diligently, and asked many (interesting) questions. More than once, I was asked questions I did not know the answer to, and together we were able to come to a solution.

But by and large, there are two overwhelmingly strong indicators that what I am doing is at least a step in the right direction. The first of the two is that I have had multiple students from classes that I do not teach tell me that they have been using my website to help them through their classes: they heard from friends that all of my material was online, and they used it to help them learn and to review big concepts. The second is that the majority of my positive feedback has been coming from parents. I have had parents confess to me that they were interested in this model upon speaking to them, but, even more so, parents have gone out of their way to contact me to offer support.

For all these positive and negative reasons, while I am convinced that I’m on the road to something important, there are some changes that will need to be made. Now… back to the drawing board for me for some serious reflection.
Jared's website where he houses all of the content, video and assignments can be accessed here.
Here is a sample video that Jared created on multiplying polynomials.  Additional video samples can be accessed via his website.  Note that once Jared has students watch the videos, they respond to the video using a google form that permits him immediate feedback.

Some of the post-video reflection that Jared does with his class once they are together as a large group includes:

(Sample from Jared's site)
Questions Discussed

How could you find the slope of a triangle that was not 90 degrees?

Since we can only find the slope of a line, not of a triangle, we don’t need to worry about this problem. Given a line, we can always construct a right triangle, where the given line is the hypotenuse of that triangle. Also, we could find the height of the triangle and use that as our rise.

Practice Questions

Classify given slopes as being positive, negative, zero, or undefined.
Find slopes of lines given their rises and runs.

Questions to Think About

How could you determine whether a line has a constant slope?
Two hills have slopes of 0.4 and 0.8, but eventually reach the same height. Which hill would be harder to climb, and why?

Jared also provides external links to a variety of Math websites, contests, and additional ways in which students can improve their math skills.  He also includes multiple sample assessment opportunities so that students can strengthen their skills prior to any major assessment.

Despite the challenges of the model, given the success that he has seen and the improved results for students, Jared intends to continue experimenting with the flipped classroom model in the years to come.

Submitted by Jared Brandt (Mathematics teacher at Campbell Collegiate) and Monique Bowes (Instructional Consultant - Team Lerminiaux)

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