Walking into my pre-algebra classes, the view is sadly unimpressive most days. A typical math period with Mrs. Flint consists of bell work to review previous material, a mini lesson, then collaborative practice over the content while I work with small groups or meander around and help those in need. Just typing that bored me. I do integrate days of math labs (cheez-it squares and square roots, anyone?) and games (scoot with task cards or jeopardy) but I am a very structured person so the aforementioned classroom schedule is more than comfortable (ouch!). You may be asking yourself why I don’t change if I feel that horrible about boreing my students. I could list out 100 reasons but the truth is that those would mostly be excuses. Excuses, as I tell my lovely students, are just like noses. Everyone has one and they all smell. I have, however, taken it upon myself to start exploring other ways of doing things. Where am I going with this you ask? Well, it’s going to make you flip…your classroom, that is.
Flipped classrooms have been a consistently discussed topic in education for the past few years (at least the three that I have been teaching). In essence, a flipped classroom consists of a teacher providing students notes or a video to view at home in order to open their minds and introduce the new concept. That way, the face time in class is more efficient in actual learning rather than lecture. This face time can consist of a wide array of topics and activities and will look different for each teacher and their students. Below are videos that show different ways to transform your classroom into a flipped mentality.
As you can see, this could be revolutionary to some and absolute chaos to others. You have to tailor it to your style and your students’ needs. I have started to incorporate this into my advanced math class and so far, it has been absolutely wonderful. Of course it hasn’t been an entire walk in the park and students did fight it at first but we are growing to love it. Our class time is more efficient and students come ready with exactly what they don’t know. This equips them with the ability to ask a question about EXACTLY what they don’t understand. This is a teacher’s dream! For those who do not or cannot watch the instruction at home or complete the assignment online, they may use my iPads during class to do so. Gone (mostly) are the days of ” I don’t get it” and in are the days of “why do you have to plug in that function and not solve for it”. Glorious.
In order to incorporate this mentality and transform your classroom, technology is a lifesaver! There are various avenues you could take here as well. I am gearing up to begin using Google classroom but right now I am utelizing collaborize and Youtube. These are where I make or find the majority of my videos. I also use Socrative, Frontrow, and Tenmarks for formative assessments and classwork. There are many apps that allow you to record video, assign practice to students, etc. Here is a wonderful blogger that I follow whose posts helped me a lot!
I also found Google to by my best friend when scouring for technology and websites best suited for what I was wanting to do. Here are some of the places I found.
From an administration standpoint, I believe that this would take buy-in from both students and parents. I have had a few parents who have come to me concerned that since I am having students view the videos and complete the notes at home that I am not doing anything in class besides babysitting. This is far beyond the case! A teacher who successfully implements a flipped classroom mentality uses class time to differentiate, scaffold, and intervene with those students who need more support. That is the beauty of it! Those students who prefer to not sit through lessons because they understand and want to move on, can! Those who need more support and time get that one-on-one time. It does take structured planning, though. As a principal, this could create friction between parents and teachers if there is any miscommunication over the expectations and reality of the classroom time which could create fires that would need to be put out. I would suggest that teachers who are wanting to flip their classrooms discuss that decision with their building principal and make sure they also understand the goals and expectations.
In conclusion, flipped classrooms using technology are a wonderful innovation. They do come with their own setbacks including limited technology in the classroom (I am making it work with a 2:1 iPad setup) as well as students may not have internet at home. If you are going to incorporate this method of teaching, you have to be flexible and account for anything that may go wrong at first because it probably will. They may not be best suited for all educators but the implications for learning, in my opinion, are worth the chaos! As I solidify my comfort level with this in my advanced class, I plan to begin integrating flipped classroom mentality into my other sections as well. Find your niche in the vast world of technology available for this and you will be well on your way!