Monday, July 23, 2012

Intro to #flipclass for parents

and... Here is the "first draft" of my "Intro to #flipclass" for my parents to watch during the first week of school.  I would love any thoughts, comments, and feedback. 

I know that I am talking pretty fast throughout the video (wanted to hit that 5 minute max!), so let me know if you think it detracts from the video at all.  I will be somehow providing the transcript of the video to parents, so they can read along or read through it afterwards if it goes to fast for them. (and of course, the beauty of the flipped class videos is being able to pause and rewind!!)

I am still planning on:
1. Getting the transcript (see below) translated into Spanish and adding captions throughout the video.

2. Editing my parent letter from last year (which is much more detail about what will be going on) and getting that translated into Spanish as well.  

3. Updating the "parents" site that is linked from my two class sites referred to in the video.  The video for my students from my previous post will be on that site for parents who want to see a little more.  I plan on recording a few more short videos for my students, such as "How to watch a video for learning and not entertainment" (based off of FITCH), "How to write a WSQ", "How to participate in a WSQ chat in class", etc... I will be putting all of those on the parent site as well to keep them involved and capable of participating in their students' education.


Hello! My name is Mrs. Kirch and I have the privilege of being your son or daughter’s math teacher for this school year.  I am really looking forward to getting to know each and every student and work with them in order to help them succeed.

The purpose of this video is to let you know what your student’s math class will be like this year as we transition to a new style of teaching and learning called the Flipped Classroom.

In a traditional math class, like the ones both you and I grew up in, students sit in rows or groups, facing the front of the classroom, and listen to the teacher present the lesson for most of the class period.  They are assigned a set of practice problems to bring home to do individually for homework.  Then, they come back to class the next day and follow the same routine.

I have come to find that this is not always the best way to help our students learn, for many reasons.  Let me talk about three of them.
1. Students all learn at different paces.  When I would teach a lesson to the whole class, there would be many students who did just fine. There would be many who understood it quickly and wanted me to move on, so they got bored. Then, there would be several students who learned at a slower pace and needed more time than we had in class to process the information.  In a traditional class, I was not able to reach all of my students every day.

2. Students often bring home practice problems for homework that they don’t know how to do on their own quite yet.  So, this means they either find someone to help them, they just write down a bunch of numbers to try to make it look like they did it, or they copy a friend’s the next day.  Either way, the practice problems do not help the student learn the material in any way, and it becomes a waste of time.  This is not helpful to our students or respectful of their time and effort.

3. Students miss class throughout the year for a variety of reasons, whether it be illness, sports, or family reasons.  When they miss a lesson in math, it’s a big deal, because the lessons often build on one another.  Thus, the student has to come in on their own time to learn the lesson, and the teacher has to re-explain the whole lesson to the student.  This is not an efficient use of anyone’s time.

All of these problems can be resolved with the flipped classroom. So, what is the flipped classroom?  I’m just going to give the very basics.  If you want to see or hear more, feel free to visit the Info for Parents section of our class blog.

1. What was normally done in school is now done at home, meaning students will get the lessons at home via video.  They can watch this on their computer, mobile device, or television if they need to. They take notes during the video, making sure to pause, rewind, rewatch, or even fast forward as needed.  They learn the lesson fully at their own pace and are in charge of their learning.  When they finish the video, they complete a WSQ, which makes sure the student takes time to process the information learned and writes down any questions or concerns they have.  You can read more about the WSQ in the letter that was sent home.  In addition, there is a live online study group students can participate in every night that is moderated by me. Students are not expected to master the material just by watching a video, but they are expected to understand the basics and bring confusing topics to class to discuss and get clarified.  

2.  So, since they get the lesson at home, what do they do in class?  This is the fun part.   Students will be able to participate in discussions about the math and get their questions answered by me and their peers.  They will still do most of the normal practice problems that they would have done at home, but now they have help whenever they need it, so they don’t get as frustrated.  Any questions they have are answered right away.  Because of the extra time we will have, students can now work on higher-level thinking activities, such as analyzing the problems, applying the concepts to real-world situations, evaluating their work and the work of others, and creating their own material to share.  It is a much more exciting and engaging environment to be in and students have an active role in their learning, rather than passively sitting back listening to me talk all period.  I am very busy throughout the entire class period, helping students one-on-one and in small groups, answering their questions and challenging them to think deeper.  It’s very exhausting, but so worth it when I see them begin to take responsibility for their learning and really master the material I have set out for them to learn.

I am ready for an exciting year of learning math with the Flipped Classroom.  I know that it is the best way I can give your student one-on-one attention every day and your student can grow not only as a math student, but learn skills that will help in the future as they pursue college and a career.

Please feel free to contact me via email or phone if you have any questions about the flipped classroom.  It will take your child a few weeks to adjust to the changes and the expectations of this course, so please continue to encourage them to give their best effort and to communicate with me any concerns or questions they have.  

If you want to know more about the flipped classroom, please check out the “Parents” tab on the right hand side of the class blogs.  Make sure to bookmark the class blog for easy access in the future!

I look forward to working with you this year and meeting you at Back to School Night on Wednesday, September 26th


  1. WoW Crystal...this looks really cool. I look forward to reading about what happens when you share it with your students and families.

    1. Thanks Tina! I'm a little nervous about starting the year flipped from Day 1 before I have relationships set in stone like I did last year, but hopefully this is one of many small steps I am taking to ensure that! I will definitely be blogging a lot come the start of school :). How's your blog coming along?

  2. You did a great job giving the parents a synopsis of the flipped classroom - you included all very relevant points and details. I think it would be helpful if you slowed down in the webcam introduction. When you are speaking in the very beginning, the webcam video makes you seem like you are in fast forward mode, but speaking quickly doesn't distract when the powtoon presentation is on the screen. Amazing work as usual. Thanks for continuing to share your brilliant ideas!

    1. Thanks Nicole! The webcam intro/conclusion were the two parts I was considering re-filming... so I might do that in the next week or so when I add the captions.
      Thanks for sharing YOUR stuff as well! I'm excited you are so willing to share your stuff in the blogsphere as well :)

  3. Crystal, this is really good. I like how we approach things from different angles, so even when we are talking about the same thing, I can always learn something more from you in your presentatios. Just goes to show that different disciplines can learn from each other. I am glad that you are a member of my PLN!

    Spanish Flipped Class Blog

    1. Thanks Heather! Your parent video gave me some ideas to get started, and got me HOOKED on PowToons, so thanks :)
      Hope you are getting a little rest this summer before the year starts!

      Crystal :)

  4. Hi Crystal,

    Great work as usual! I am just working my way through my "intro" video for students and am planning to move on to a FAQ one for parents. I am definitely going to "borrow" some of your great ideas! I did have a question that you may have answered in another post; what program are you using for your online study groups? I have been toying with the idea of creating a Google+ hangout for my students but worry if I can't monitor it all the time. I'm also debating on doing an online "extra help" session once or twice a week via JoinMe. I definitely think some kind of online extra help would benefit my students since most of them don't realize what they don't understand until they are home and working through the material. I get a lot of 8pm emails! Have you done online study groups in the past? How did they work out? I'd love to come up with a safe way to have some online extra help, any feedback you have would be great!

    1. Hi Elizabeth!
      Thanks! You are welcome to borrow my ideas :)
      The online study group I'll be using this year is ThinkBinder. I just learned about it at ISTE and have been playing around with it this summer and so far I love it. You can see who is online and who has been online (not what time periods though). The chat is saved forever until YOU clear it, so even if you aren't online you can see what was written. There is also a video chat tool to use if desired.

      I have study groups for each unit that the students can use every night (we'll see how much they do!) and then I figured the couple nights before a test I would set up a specific time I would definitely log in and be there to help.

      Last year I did my first study groups via just a live Google Doc. The kids loved it (I had between 15-25 participate the few times I did it). I just didn't like the structure and that the students were all "anonymous users" because of the way it was set up. This way you know exactly who you are talking to.

      I would check out ThinkBinder and see what you think :)


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