Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why I am Flipping my Classroom.

I'm not sure when the decision was made. I'm not even sure when I first read about it. All I remember is that one night during the 2010-2011 school year, a student contacted me on our class website and said "I'm so confused about how to find our scale for the trig graphs, can you explain it again?". It was hard to explain in words, so I took my digital camera, and holding it above a paper, worked out a quick example and sent it his way. That led to me working out more and more homework problems for students as the year went on and posting them online. The quality of all the videos, honestly, was horrible, as I was holding the camera and trying not to shake too bad as I went over the problem.

I had a solid set of videos for tricky concepts to begin the 2011-2012 school year with. About a month into the school year, I tried a new teaching approach called "Expert Teacher" that pretty much sucked. My students went home completely confused about what they were supposed to learn, so I took a poll on Edmodo and asked "Who would watch a video of Concepts 2 and 3 worked out for you on video?" and got an almost unanimous response. By this time, I had an AverVision Document Camera in my classroom that recorded straight to my Mac, so I recorded the explanations and sent them out to my students.

It must have been at that point that I stumbled across the phrase known widely as "flipped classroom" and proposed to my Math Analysis Honors class if they were interested in trying it out. I would say about 75-80% of the students were excited about it at first. We began by having videos 2-4 days a week (between 8-15 minutes long). However, class time was very unguided and sometimes was not that beneficial. I kept trying to do all these "fun activities" with the students that ended up wasting a lot of class time. I continued to get feedback from the students on how they were feeling - most of them still enjoyed it, but there were a few students who were getting a little tired of it. Several students really had trouble with the fact that it was "different" and struggled to adjust to the change in how their math class was compared to the last 10 years of their educational career.

Another month or so went by and I was very happy with what I was seeing. I saw slightly higher test percentages for several units compared to my previous years' classes. What struck me the most, however, was the students "in the middle" succeeding at such higher levels. I came to the realization that the top students are going to succeed with my videos or not. The lower, unmotivated students are going to show up to class unprepared whether the homework is a problem set or a video. But, the students in the middle (which I would say is 70% of my class) really succeed when they are given the opportunity to learn at their own pace, pause/rewind/re-watch parts of the lesson, and to ask questions in class.

I was so happy with what I was seeing that I proposed the idea to my Algebra 1 class (9th-10th graders), not really knowing what their thoughts would be. They really struggle with completing regular homework and I was to the point of major frustration. Surprisingly, they were actually very excited about it and we did a "test chapter" to see how it would work. While some students still did not watch the video before class, there was definitely a higher rate of "homework" completion.

So, starting second semester 2012 (Jan 31st is the first day), I am fully flipping all of my classes - 3 sections of Algebra 1 and 2 sections of Math Analysis Honors. I have come up with a better idea of what I am looking for and what to do. The purpose of this blog is to have a place to reflect so in June I can look back and decide if this is a change I want to continue to do, and how I can continue to improve it to help my students succeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...