Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Flipping a 6th Grade Math Class

My student teaching experience was an excellent experience for me as it afforded me the opportunity to work with a great teacher @jgbluedevil as we strived to provide the best possible learning opportunities for a group of struggling math learners. From the beginning, we collaborated on ideas to help the students and from there we laid the framework for a flipped classroom. The concept behind a flipped classroom is that the students watch an instructional video for homework and class time is spent on what would be traditionally considered homework. This allows for the teacher to spend class time working with the students instead of doing whole group instruction. This website is a great resource for information on teaching with a flipped classroom.

To begin with, we quit demonstrating problems from the workbook as the students would tend to tune us out and continue with other workbook problems, and we switched to notetaking. This is a process you need to teach the students, both how to take notes (write down steps with examples, not just random math problems all over your page) and then how to use the notes (leave them open on your desk as you do your math workbook). Using, I created a website where I posted these notes  along with links to online manipulatives, videos and also surveys for formative assessment. That way, if a student forgot to bring their notebook home or didn't understand their notes, they could access them at home. Additionally, the online manipulatives and videos provided extra reinforcement for the day's lesson.

Once we had established a routine of notetaking and helped the students become secure in using the notes, I created a screencast for one lesson. To scaffold the experience of a flipped classroom, we began on a day the students took a quiz. As they finished the quiz, they were to go to the website and watch the screencast video, then do two pages of their workbook. The video I created was also scaffolded to help them with the experience as I talked them through how to learn from a video. I told them when to stop and write something down and when to stop and do a practice problem. Students worked on this in class and then continued it at home. 

The next day, we corrected homework and all students who scored 80% or above on their homework worked independently to complete the remaining workbook pages in the lesson. The other students met with me for re-teaching. It turned out that over half of the students I met with were secure in the day's lesson, but had forgotten to simplify their fractions. The other half needed anywhere from five to fifteen minutes of individual teaching to become secure in the lesson. As they became secure, they independently worked on the remainder of their homework.

About a week after this experience, I surveyed the students about notetaking, notes posted on the website and the video lesson. The majority of the students felt it beneficial to have the notes posted online and half felt the video lesson was preferable to a lecture. Unfortunately, our school technology systems did not support the continuation of the flipped lesson. We had many difficulties finding a way to host the video in a manner that the students could consistently view it without errors occurring. Despite those problems, which we continue to work through, the students and I felt the lesson a success and one I would definitely continue to use.


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