Saturday, March 17, 2012

Flipping in Math: pre-loading or inquiry?

There has been a lot out in the Twitter world lately about using the Flipped Classroom to pre-load all content into a students and then having them come in and work on practice problems in class.  With the popularity of Khan Academy (especially since the 60 minutes special), that is what a lot of people are starting to think the flipped classroom is.  Feed them info, they spit it back out - the timing is just reversed.  Personally, I am NOT a fan of Khan Academy videos and the way they are being used in Flipped Classrooms.  First, I think a successful flipped classroom needs to have the majority of the videos made by the teacher him/herself (with room for supplementary, real-world example, cool modeling, etc videos just found on YouTube made by others).  Second, I don't believe that having students come to class to stare at a video and them complete practice problems in isolation is the best way.  Just my opinions...

There has also been a lot of talk about using "inquiry-based" teaching with the flipped classroom model where the students watch the videos AFTER they have already worked with the material in class.  While I can see this working very well in a science flipped class, I am struggling to see exactly what it would look like in a math flipped class.

If I had all the time in the world and could spend 3-4 days on a concept (even 2 days would be nice - but most of our concepts are one day each!), I could see spending a whole day having students explore and try things, go home and get the lesson, and then come back and practice some more with the guidance.

However, I can't seem to get past that first day not being very successful.  In math, there is usually one or two "right" ways to go about solving a problem (that's why so many of my students like math - there is almost always an answer!).  I feel like I WANT them to come to class knowing the basic vocabulary, processes, and steps.  Then, in class, we can explore connections to other material, applications of the process, and practice using the steps TOGETHER once they already have that background knowledge.

I see myself as a "beginning" flipper, so please feel free to share your thoughts and advice in regards to this.
  1. Do you feel like your flipped classroom is more "pre-loading" or more "inquiry-based" with the videos AFTER initial exposure? [please distinguish between your content area!]
  2. If you are using a more inquiry-based set-up in your flipped math class, please share.
  3. If you are using a more inquiry-based set-up in your non-math flipped class and think you could see how it would work in a math flipped class, please share.
  4. Do you feel there are times for both ways depending on the content?  If so, can you give some examples of when you use each method?
I am always interested in finding ways to improve my flipped class to make it more meaningful and useful for my student's learning.

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