Monthly Archives: February 2013

Rational Expressions – Conic Comic


Rational Expressions – A Rational Question


Results of a Semester Survey – Part 3

Here are the responses to the third and final question on the survey: “What are your thoughts and suggestions for change?” I was quite nervous about the results to this question, but the criticisms were very constructive! Again, they are grouped and sorted.

Do More Than Just Easy Problems in Class

  1. It’s probably just me, but I feel like the tests have problems (problems within the lesson) that are in situations completely outside of how we learned it. Instead of just teaching us the basis of the lesson and giving us worksheets to get it down to a process, teach us how to use the math lesson in different situations (like weirdly-worded math problems).
  2. So far, everything in class has been going well. I really enjoy the Flipped Classroom. However, I hope we can do more during class time. Perhaps do more projects where we can apply what we learned to solve real world problems, kind of like the catapult project. In class, everyone finishes (or sometimes people don’t even care about it) a small assignment. I wish we can do more challenging stuff during class time. Thanks.
  3. Every day (or once a week) you could pick a really hard HL exam problem to go over on the Smart Board at the beginning of class. We would take shots at the problem, and you would guide us if we needed help. It would really boost the attitude in the classroom, taking on a problem with the class each day, rather than winging it and hoping you doing fail the next test. Or maybe make a packet of past exam problems to work on each unit? My physics teacher does that, and we work through problems in class together, him helping us with the harder problems.
  4. To change this, it’d be nice to have less repetitive worksheets and it would be good to have maybe two days for a long worksheet before we get another one. It’s overwhelming to get a new worksheet every day.”
  5. Have a certain day allotted to answering all the big and challenging questions before the test. You kind have already been doing that but keep it in mind that I find it highly beneficial.
  6. Would be better if we studied harder topics in class.
  7. Well, I have one suggestion about the flipped classroom. I think it needs more hand written quizzes. They don’t have to be for a grade, but most of the materials we are currently learning involve a lot of solving and applying. Rules and equations from the past are essential to understanding the current materials, and I think solving the equations by our hands would help myself and other fellow students to permanently take in the new materials.
  8. Maybe you could just teach us how to do a few HL problems on the reviews and worksheets so we are not completely lost.

I like all of these suggestions, and I’m thrilled that the number one issue is that students want to learn MORE. I am going to try to implement as many of these ideas as I can!

Prefer to Be Taught in Class

  1. My only complaint is that when I’m at home, I don’t have the motivation or energy to try to learn anything. Videos are a good idea in theory, but even if I do watch them, I don’t absorb enough to understand the lesson being taught. I do not understand anything that comes out of the videos; I like it when YOU teach. The worksheets and videos do not help, I wish there would be more teaching in class instead of me coming in the morning and disturbing you almost every day. I love the way you teach because I thoroughly understand the lesson and I can apply it to almost any situation given whether an IB problem or just a simple problem. It makes more sense when you TEACH IN CLASS.
  2. I think in addition to the flipped classrooms, on certain set days of the week, you should have a teaching day preferably towards the end of the week where you provide a summary of the lessons learned during that week. Also there should be two or three days for the explanation for review questions before tests.
  3. For some lessons it would be helpful if you just taught it in class because as seniors a lot of us don’t have the will power to watch math videos at home until the night before our tests. Although the videos help with that, it is easy to get the answer without watching or paying attention that closely. So, if you taught some lessons the regular way it would force students to be caught up because if they weren’t they wouldn’t have a video to lean back on so they would need to pay attention and not procrastinate.
  4. Teaching more in class to get the concept better
  5. Although I don’t mind learning from a video, and it has its advantages, I prefer learning from a teacher standing at the front of a classroom.
  6. Go over a brief overview of the chapters and then teach us how to do some of the harder problems.
  7. Although I do enjoy the liberties of the flipped classroom system, I would at least ask that a portion of the class be used for physical instruction to supplement the flipped classroom. I found it helpful that while the class was flipped, a small amount of instruction to ensure basic conceptual understanding always went a long way. Please: go over concepts taught in the chapter as a class and work through some problems in a structured class setting before turning us loose. That way, we might be able to score higher on tests

I think that re-teaching the lesson in class defeats the entire purpose of flipping the classroom. I have decided to set up a table in the front of the class for those that want a quick recap and some examples. Maybe that will help.

Make Your Own Videos

  1. Make more of your own videos and if you use other people, please don’t use that Ten Marks person who says “Okay?” every other word (he hinders learning)
  2. Maybe we could start lecturing during class and sending home worksheets?
  3. Do not choose videos for us to watch with attractive guys teaching us. It was great until I was tested on the subject……..
  4. Maybe make your own videos…

The goal is for all of the videos to be my own. But since this is my first year flipping, I am only able to do one class at a time. So next year I will do the videos for another class, and keep doing this until all of my classes are done.

Make Students Work in Class

  1. More required involvement in class would probably be more effective.
  2. More of a routine. I never really use class time to get work done, so if there was a routine of doing things, I could get a lot more done.
  3. I liked the flipped classroom but sometimes it is hard to work in class because no one else does. At least when you are teaching the lesson everyone listens but now that they can just watch the videos they have no reason to even work in class.

This is only an issue in some classes. Still working on this.

More Challenging Questions After the Videos

  1. The video checks just seem like grade boosters to me (not complaining 😛 ) but I think it would be more helpful if you had like different example problems as questions because that way we can get some practice right after the lesson to reinforce the concepts that were just discussed in the video. I wonder if you can have like a question bank of a few questions and a random questions pops up each time we take the quiz…I am not sure if that is even possible but just a thought.
  2. more practice problems.
  3. More practice with fractions, as in whatever we are learning but in fraction form.  The problems seem easy until the fractions and then it looks foreign.

They are right. When the videos aren’t mine, I don’t pay full attention, and I ask very simple questions in my video checks. I am going to improve on this, especially since the students actually want to be challenged.

Talk About the Video the Next Day

  1. Review what the video said for 5-10 minutes at the beginning of the class to make sure everyone understands.
  2. I think that you should still go over the material briefly before class in order to clarify the subject at hand. This would help us remember and understand what we just learned as well as provide us with time to clear not only my questions but also learn from the questions my peers ask.

I think that the idea I mentioned in the “Prefer to Be Taught in Class” section will take care of this issue as well.


  1. The one thing I do find to be a problem is that it’s very difficult to get your help for things during class (although I suppose I should just come in for tutoring) because there are just so many people that also need help. I do really enjoy the flipped classroom model, however, and I think it’s helped me both understand material more and improve my math grade immensely.
  2. I personally don’t think this is a good format for my learning style. I’m still not good at time management, so the flipped classroom makes it hard for me to get stuff done. If I haven’t done a homework check, I fall behind. When I fall behind, I progressively get more and more behind and confused, making it difficult to understand this already hard material. And then, because I know I am so far behind, I don’t even know what questions to ask for review because I haven’t even done all of the material yet! I liked last year better, because right after learning the lesson was taught in class I was ready to practice what I learned by  completing the worksheet. I rarely complete the worksheets this year, which is probably why I am not doing as well as I could.
  3. I think having maybe a quiz in the middle of a chapter may be useful so we don’t forget what we learned early on in the chapter. The flipped classroom process is really beneficial for me in math this year and I hope it continues next year.

Wow! A lot to think about! If any of my students are reading this, thank you very much for your input. I will definitely be considering all of these ideas. For my followers, I highly encourage each of you to ask these questions of your students too. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

Reflection – Who am I as a teacher?

I heard a sermon this week about our need to remember who we are. The pastor cited the examples of the railroad industry and Eastman Kodak. The railroad industry focused too much on the trains and the tracks, and forgot that their purpose was transportation. Eastman Kodak focused on film and forgot that their purpose was preserving memories.
The rest of the sermon was very enlightening, but afterward, I got to thinking: Have I lost sight of my role in the classroom?
On a very shallow level, I could say that my role is to teach mathematics to young learners, but I would be wrong.
A few years ago, I would pride myself on my knowledge of mathematics. After all, I did receive my degree from one of the top universities in Canada. Since then, I have taught every level of high school mathematics and I have a clear understanding of how they all link together. But more recently, with my professional connections through Twitter, I am becoming more and more aware of how little I know about mathematics in comparison to my international colleagues. So, clearly, my role in the classroom is not to share my “expertise.” My students can know as much, if not more, about mathematics simply by doing what they know best – looking it up on the Internet.
Also, as I look at my curriculum, I wonder how much of it they will use after they graduate. How many of them will want or need to simplify rational expressions or solve differential equations, either in their career or just for the fun of it?
So, no, my role is not to “teach math.”
But if that is true, if my role is not simply to bestow knowledge that can easily be found and better explained elsewhere, then what is my role? It’s simple. My role is to model adult thought and activity in learning situations. What do I do when I see a problem I’ve never seen before? How do I find the answer to a question that none of my peers can answer? How do I persevere when I’m out of ideas? How do I balance my efforts with others in my work group? What do I do when I see a pattern that I think happens all the time? How do I communicate my thoughts in a way that is clear and does not unintentionally offend anyone who is listening? What do I do when tempted with an opportunity to be unethical?
I need to show the same curiosity, inquisitiveness, perseverance, balance, creativity, communication, and sense of morality that I expect of them. And I need to show this every day.
But how? Well, I can start by learning more about the subject in which I’m not such an expert anymore – mathematics. I can read about new discoveries in the field, and share my excitement about it in my class. Secondly, I can communicate with my students about things that are of personal interest to me in efforts to demonstrate meaningful dialogue with them. But most importantly, I can learn about something that I care deeply about – my students. I get a new crew every year, and every year they are, individually and collectively, different. What a wonderful use of my time to see how they think, what they like, how they feel, and what motivates them.
I can do this, no matter what the subject or learning level is. Not only is it possible or me to do this, but I must do this. This is my redefined role in the classroom. It is not up to me to decide whether to accept it or not. Today’s learners have made this a job requirement. So not only do I accept it, I also embrace it. After all, I am a lifelong learner. I should start acting like one. And if my students are to become lifelong learners as well, then they deserve to know what that looks like.

Results of a Semester Survey – Part 2

In continuing with the results of a survey that I gave my students at the beginning of this semester, the second question was: What is the most helpful part about the flipped classroom?

Here are the answers, and again, I’ve listed them in groups, and in order of popularity:

More Effective Time with the Teacher

  1. The ability to have you as a resource when we’re doing work.
  2. Mr. VanderSchee has time to help each student individually.
  3. We get help from you only when we need it. The one-on-one time is the most helpful.
  4. The most helpful part of flipped classroom is that Mr. VanderSchee can help us with any questions we have during the class period so that we can better understand the material.
  5. being able to do work in class and therefore being able to work with classmates and the teacher more
  6. The most helpful part is definitely our access to you while completing homework assignments. Math homework has always frustrated me in the past because our teachers couldn’t help us while we were completing it, and yet they still took it for a grade. This often led to me bombing homework checks, which frankly doesn’t help anyone.
  7. That I’m allowed to answer all my questions with you while I’m doing the assignment.
  8. Also if I had questions, I was able to go talk to Mr. VanderSchee during class about it.
  9. Ask questions in class and already be aware of the syllabus in class.
  10. I’m able to use Mr. VanderSchee as a resource instead of poorly written web tutorials.
  11. Being able to ask questions in class
  12. Being able to ask questions about work.
  13. We could learn at home and then apply the skills in class with the help of the teacher.
  14. The most helpful part would likely be the availability of the instructor. Since little time is used in class for instruction, the teacher is more free and open to answer any and all questions regarding problems.

Re-watching Videos

  1. I like that I could refresh the entire concept before the test by watching all the videos. And I am sure that I will go back and watch some of these videos before the IB Exam and maybe even later on. And the fact that it is on YouTube and we don’t have to be Coppell students to watch makes it even better because we can always go back and watch them later when we forgot it in college. Thanks for taking you time to do this!!
  2. We have the ability to go and look back at the videos if we need to.
  3. The student has the lesson there and can replay as many times as needed.
  4. The style the videos are taught in. They are just like a normal classroom and we can ask you (Mr. VanderSchee) questions that we have the following day or even the same night.
  5. “the ability to replay the videos for better understanding
  6. The most helpful part about Flipped Classroom was being able to replay the video as many times as needed in order to fully understand the concept.
  7. Having the resources available whenever you need them
  8. Provided me with videos that allowed me to go over the stuff that was being talked about multiple times, which made it easier for me to learn the material.
  9. I get to watch the video however many times I want
  10. I like being able to refer back to the videos before the test to refresh my memory of the topics.
  11. I have control over the video, so I can re-watch it or slow it down. Being able to dictate the pace helps me get all the information and have a better understanding.
  12. The most helpful part of the Flipped Classroom is the flexibility of the video-watching. You can watch the videos provided at any time in the evenings, and you can always go back to them too. You can also pause them and rewind.
  13. You could re-watch the videos if the topic was confusing, which was a bit of a time saver in my opinion.

Homework in Class

  1. The opportunity to do all homework in class.
  2. You get to actually learn how to do it in class. You get more practice and clarification.
  3. Doing homework in class
  4. Getting to work with other students is extremely helpful–rather than struggling through confusing problems at home and possibly trawling the Internet for help, I can actually ask other students who understand what’s going on and how to apply it for our particular problem.
  5. I could directly ask questions I had about the work instead of waiting until the next day.
  6. Since we work on problems in class, it is also a lot easier to collaborate with other students and make sure you are doing things correctly.

Learning at Your Own Pace

  1. I can learn in my own pace and if I were to miss couple of days, I can always catch up by watching the videos so that when I come back, I don’t have to worry when I don’t understand some concept.
  2. I like learning from the videos because I can learn at my own pace. If I don’t understand something I can always watch that portion of the video again or ask in class. The flipped classroom process seems more tailored to the individual student that way.
  3. We can ask you questions at our own pace in class when we don’t understand things, and since you aren’t teaching then you are usually able to help.

Can Watch Other Videos

  1. The most helpful part is that I am more prone to look at other ‘related’ videos online when I don’t get something, because I see how these videos can help. I didn’t do that before.
  2. Video Checks
  3. This is somewhat related to the flipped classroom, but I liked the questions at the end of each videos, video checks. It sometimes made me watch the same video multiple times. This is not a complaint. Sometimes I just watch the learning videos without truly understanding the materials that are presented. The questions made me focus, and I wouldn’t have learned as much if there weren’t any questions at the end.


The videos aren’t that helpful, the most helpful part would be when you help us on the tests and go through the problem step by step. But if you can please teach in class, that would be more amazing that you already are. I love the way you teach so please try to teach more. Like instead of worksheets and videos maybe more teaching in class and go deeper into the lessons instead of the worksheets.

In my last post, I stated that I am beginning each class with a recap and some questions from the assignment. This is going well, and the students are responding well to it.

There is nothing, I would rather have work to do at home. It helps be better comprehend the material.

I imagine the students could do the work at home if they want to. It just means they will have to take a few more minutes to watch the next video. Also, I’m not sure how doing the homework at home helps them “better comprehend the material.”

Rational Expressions – The Root of the Problem



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