Sunday, January 22, 2012

What does my Flipped Classroom look like? (letter to parents)

I have updated the letter I will be sending home to parents at the beginning of the next school year about what my flipped classroom looks like.  It is edited from an earlier version (January 2012) and is still under construction until I hand it out next August!
 Updated letter link here:

January 2012 letter below:

Dear Parents,
Starting in 2012, things will be a little different in your student’s math class than you may be used to. We will be fully implementing a teaching model known widely as the “flipped classroom”. What is a “flipped classroom”? Please take a few moments to watch the presentation I have put together for you, which can be found at .

In short, a “flipped classroom” switches around the traditional order of teaching with the purpose of creating a more in depth and supportive environment in the classroom when the teacher is present and able to help students. It allows for students to receive a more individualized math education, thus resulting in them understanding the content at a higher and deeper level than before. In addition, it challenges students to learn how to take charge of their learning, becoming resourceful learners. Lastly, it provides time for more discussion and questioning during class time, helping students to become reflective communicators and to think more deeply about the subject.

What does homework look like now?

For homework, students will be required to watch video lectures created by me, where I will teach them the lesson and give examples in the same way they would receive it in class. However, because the students are watching the lessons on video, they can pause, rewind, or re-watch any segments of the video at any time. This allows students to learn at their own pace and become more self-directed, having to know when they need to go back over a certain concept they did not fully grasp the first time it was explained. Each lesson is specifically designed to be around 8 to 15 minutes long.
These videos can be accessed at for home viewing, on SchoolTube for school viewing, or students can get the videos on a flash drive in order to watch them without internet access. All direct links are also accessible at the class website, . Because the videos are online, they can be accessed on any internet-capable device, such as a cell phone. Videos can also be uploaded to iTunes from a flash drive and synced with a student’s iPod to watch offline. Other options are also available by request, such as getting the videos on DVD to watch on a TV instead of a computer.

While watching the videos, students are taking copious notes of important concepts and examples in their SSS packets that are provided for them. When they are done watching the video, they write a summary of the concept they learned about. The quality and depth of their summary informs me of how much they truly understood what they watched and what misconceptions they may have that need to be further explained. After the summary, students write at least one question regarding the content. This may be a question that they do not know how to answer and need explained, or it may be a question that they do know the answer to, but is an important piece of the concept from the video. Students are challenged to make their questions “HOT” questions (“Higher Order Thinking” questions) and have been provided with question starters on Edmodo to help deepen their thinking. This process is called a “WSQ” (pronounced wisk), and stands for “Watch – Summary – Question”. Underclassmen (9th-10th graders) are also required to add a “V”erification portion to their “WSQ” (making it a “WSQV”, pronounced wis-quiv) where a parent or guardian signs their summary and question, along with the time frame in which the student watched the video. Upperclassmen (11th-12th graders) parents can request that their students be put on a required “WSQV” contract if their students need more monitoring in finishing the homework.

There will still be a few nights where homework will look like regular “homework”... students will be doing review worksheets and practice problems. This generally occurs the few nights before a test. However, now students have access to the lesson online and can re-watch it if they don’t remember how to do the problems assigned in the homework.

What does classwork look like now?

When students come into class, we begin by reviewing their “WSQ’s” in a variety of ways. We may go over a few sample summaries as a class, or students may discuss their summaries either in partners or in small groups. This time allows the class to refresh their memory on what was watched last night as well as to clarify anything that was not clear during the video lesson. We also go over the questions that students have asked. Similarly, we may go over a few questions as a class, but most often students work in their small groups to ask and answer each others’ questions, whether they know the answer or not. If no student in the group can answer the question, or the group needs more clarification, I am there to be able to answer the question and explain anything that needs further clarification.

After the “WSQ” portion of class is over, students work in small groups on a set of practice problems or activities to help them practice and develop full understanding of the concept. Students are encouraged to work with each other and help each other out and are constantly reminded that one of the ways they can really find out if they understand a concept is by explaining it to someone else. I am constantly walking around from group to group, helping explain things and clarifying confusing parts.
In the “flipped classroom” model, we still take short quizzes on each concept a few times a week and still practice learning concepts by using the songs and chants I have developed. In addition, there is still the opportunity for whole-class teaching and review if the large group needs to go back over a concept. However, most of the teaching is now focused on smaller groups of students who need help on certain concepts, leading to fully differentiated instruction and support.

What does a “flipped classroom” require of you as a parent?

The “flipped classroom” enables you as a parent to be more involved in your student’s math education. Most parents tend to agree that they do not remember much from their high school math classes and do not feel they can support or help their student at all when they are home doing homework. However, with the “flipped classroom”, there are several very easy ways you can help your student:

(1) Provide your student with a quiet place to watch the lecture video (preferably with headphones to limit distractions) each night. If internet access is not available at your house, provide your student with the time to stay after school to watch the video in the school library or my classroom.
(2) Ask your student questions about what they watched and have them read their summary out loud to you.
(3) Read their summary yourself to make sure it sounds complete and makes sense.
(4) Read the question they asked and see if they can answer it.
(5) Encourage them to take their time while watching the videos, which means they pause, rewind, or re-watch portions of the video when the teaching is going too fast or when students need a minute to
make sense of what was taught.
(6) Watch the videos with them so you can learn along with them and help them when it comes to doing regular practice at home the night before the test!

What does a “flipped classroom” require of your student?

In reality, a “flipped classroom” does not change the fact that students are expected to go home and do “math homework” for 30-45 minutes a night. The only thing that is different is the type of “math homework” that they are doing. Instead of doing mindless practice problems where they can do the problems without really thinking about them, get stuck on the problems or do them incorrectly, or simply not do the problems at all because they think the problems are too difficult, students simply have to watch a video, take notes, and reflect in a summary and question. Students are expected to come prepared to class each day with the background knowledge of each concept, ready to learn it better, deeper, and faster. Students are not expected to have full mastery of the content before they arrive in class, although many students will be at that level.

The “flipped classroom” requires your student to take responsibility for their learning in several ways:
(1) Students must plan time to watch the video when they are still fully awake and able to make connections between content. (Before 10pm is highly suggested).
(2) Students must take initiative to re-watch videos they need to see again.
(3) Students must make sure that if they are absent, they still watch the required videos and come to class prepared.
(4) Students must make sure that they take initiative to communicate with me either online or in person if there are issues with watching the videos. This includes coming and seeing me before school, during seminar, or during lunch to watch the videos before class begins as often as possible.

What if your student watches the videos every night but still does not understand the content?

Individualized or small group tutoring and support is still available for students before, during, and after the school day. During that time, I can sit down with them and go over more examples and try to explain it in a different way. Students can contact me anytime via to ask when I am available, although I generally have a consistent schedule that is posted in the classroom.

How does the “flipped classroom” work with the Fundamental Structures at [our high school]?

Students will still be held accountable for completing the “WSQ” on a nightly basis, just like a regular homework assignment. Failure to do so will result in the progress discipline policies of the Missed Assignment Cards (“Homework Cards”). The policies listed below are subject to change.
• “WSQ” charts (see sample at end of letter) will be collected on a weekly basis, and students must have a minimum of 60% of the available points to not receive a homework card. Students will receive differing amount of points based on if the assignments are completed on time.
• If a student does not have the video watched before class begins twice in one week, they will receive a homework card automatically.
• The assignments that correspond with the WSQ’s must be fully completed by the next class day. Students are given plenty of class time to finish these assignments working with me and other classmates; however, if they are off task or absent they will have to make it up on their own time and make sure it is fully completed before entering class the next day.

Students will receive points in the HW/CW category of their grade for each week based on the percentage they have completed, so it is very important that students strive to reach 100% of the boxes filled with two points each.

STUDENT NAME: ___________________________________________ PERIOD: _________

[ ] I understand the changes that will be taking place and the expectations for my student. We have internet access at home and watching the videos nightly should not be a problem.

[ ] I understand the changes that will be taking place and the expectations for my student. We do have a computer at home; however, we do not have consistent internet access at home, so please make accommodations for my student.

[ ] I understand the changes that will be taking place and the expectations for my student. We do not have a computer at home, so please make accommodations for my student.

Parent/Guardian Name: ________________________ Relationship to Student: ____________

Parent Signature: ___________________________________________

Best way to contact me from 8am-2pm during the week
[ ] Email: ____________________________________________________________
[ ] Phone: ____________________________________________________________
Questions, comments, or concerns:


  1. Thank you for paving the way with this informative letter to the parents. I will use it as a model for my 5th grade class. With the 2012 school year, I have taken on the challenge of having a flipped classroom. Jill Brown (see above) has already given a helping hand by allowing me to observe her flipped class in action. This is an exciting time in education.

    1. @teacherbaker - I'm glad you found this helpful! Once I was able to get it all put down into words, it was a lot easier to explain to others. Feel free to use anything you need from it.
      How exciting that you will be flipping! What subjects in your 5th grade will you be trying it with?

      I agree - very exciting times! It's a hard transition for the kids, but as it is starting in the elementary levels, soon the students will be used to taking a little more responsibility for their learning once they reach me in high school! :)

  2. Very informative information here.
    The letter to parents (putting it in words to better understand it) really does help.
    Catch you on the flipside.

  3. What does your wsq look like? I'm very intrigued by this!!!

    1. Hi Darren,
      Thanks for reading! I have a lot of other posts about my WSQ (most are linked up top on the page called "WSQing"). Check it out and let me know if you have any more questions :)

  4. I LOVE this letter! Would you mind if I use some of this with our 2nd grade parents?

    1. Hi Theresa,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. You are welcome to use parts of it with your parents. All I ask is that you give me credit where it is due based on what you choose to use. Also, have you seen my most recent post with the updated letter for this coming school year? It includes most of this one but is a lot more clear (in my opinion) of the purpose of #flipclass.



  5. Thank you SO much! I will absolutely give you credit!!! Where are you located? We are in Houston (I teach 2nd Grade ESL & GT) - and I am a "newbie". I would love to be able to email you questions - and I promise I wouldn't overwhelm you either. Thanks for all that you do! :) My blog is if you are ever interested in seeing how this works out!

    1. Hi Theresa,
      No problem. I am in Orange County, CA. You are welcome to email me questions (see contact page for email) and I try to get back as soon as I can, but with school starting and a little one sometimes it takes me a while. I've added your blog to my feedly; I look forward to seeing how your year goes!


  6. THe prezi doesn't work - do you still have it?

    1. This is a very old prezi (from when I first started flipping 2 years ago), so I've taken it off my public profile. Check out the other two prezis I now often use under "links I think you should check out" on the right side. Those are my usual "go-tos" now. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.


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