Flipped Classroom – Flipping On-Level Algebra 2
They said it couldn’t be done. In fact I was told by some of my closest (non-flipping) colleagues, “Flipped classroom doesn’t work with on-level students.” Period. Maybe I’m stubborn, but I took that more as a dare than a warning.
So yes, I plan to start using the flipped approach with my on-level Algebra 2 students. While they are just as capable as my IB Math students, I realize that their attitude towards learning math independently may vary slightly. So I have to approach this differently. First, I have to give them the motivation to watch the videos at home. And second, I have to give them some accountability that lets me know that they are actually doing what I asked them to do at home. I have to admit I’ve been listening to Jon Bergmann’s podcast for inspiration, and it has been extremely helpful.
The motivation is simple: most of these kids are naturally social. So the classroom activities that follow the basic lessons must be of a very social nature. That way, if students don’t watch the videos at home, they must watch them during class, delaying their ability to be social during the activity.
The accountability is equally simple: a set of fill-in-the-blank notes that matches the content of the video exactly. I give this to the students as they leave class, and they bring it back the next day. For absent (or absent-minded) students, an online copy of the same blank notes is available.
Here’s how I plan to unroll the new approach:
Step 1: Teach the lesson using a pre-made Powerpoint – the kind I use in my videos – while students take notes. This gets students familiar with how the lessons will look once they are watching them at home – the animations, the transitions, the fonts, the explanations. I will do this for a week so that the pattern is set.
Step 2: Watch the videos during class, while students fill in their notes. Students realize that watching these videos is not like watching a movie. They have to pay attention and follow the examples. They have to write things down, and they have to understand what they are writing. While they watch the video, I walk around and encourage them as they take notes.
During this same time frame, we start some of the more social learning activities for each lesson, at different levels depending on how comfortable they are with the content. I also hold small group tutoring sessions for those that need further assistance in understanding. But we soon realize that we don’t have enough time to do it all.
After about a week, we have a discussion about whether they prefer to sit and take notes during class, or whether they prefer we spend the time doing activities that could actually be completed during class. (Which do you think they will choose?) At this point, I ask them if they would be willing to fill in the notes at home so that we could have more time in class. This would require a majority of participation in order to work, but that’s where peer pressure – the good kind – would be a motivating factor. Since they may not remember where to find the videos at first, I put a QR code and a tinyurl address at the top of the notes page. I tell them that they must watch the video and fill in their notes during the evening in order to participate, and I stick to it. Classroom laptops would be available for those who forget or choose not to watch. Those who did watch the video can then participate in the activities. They can pick their comfort level, they can work with each other, or they can get more guidance from me.
So that’s the plan. It may work, or I may get egg on my face. Either way, I’m trying. And if I do fail, that just means that this plan didn’t work, but I won’t give up. I believe in this so much, and how it builds student-teacher relationships, and how it allows me to scaffold instruction to meet individual needs. I really hope this works, and if it doesn’t, I’ll just reflect on it, fix what I can, and try again.