Flipped Classroom – On-Level Algebra 2 Week 1: “Frustration Week”

Don’t be misled – the frustration was intentional.

Just to update you, I spent this week showing my flipped videos in class and watching the students take notes, just to make sure they knew how to “watch a video.” The note taking went well, since the videos followed the notes exactly. The video watching, on the other hand, was quite frustrating for them. They asked me to pause, rewind, and explain quite frequently. I expected this because, unlike a lecture, the video explains things once, so if a student’s mind drifted, or they were otherwise distracted, that student missed important information. Whenever I was asked to explain in person, I used the same wording that I used in the video.

Were there complaints? Oh, yes! One student took a survey of the entire class, and asked, “Now who understood all of that?” He was surprised when a neighbor sitting right behind him said, “Actually, all of us at this table are working ahead on the assignment now.” And it was true. About a third of the students understood most of what was in the video, enough to tackle the assignment that was handed out beforehand.

Two other students were just mad, admittedly. They stayed after class to tell me how angry they were. They had previously told me that they had been lost in math class before, and before I had decided to flip, they were actually learning. They were worried that they would be lost again because they thought I would be relying solely on the videos to teach them, and I would not be giving them any personal attention at all. I explained to them that all they had to do was watch the video in the evening and take good notes. I was not expecting them to understand everything I said in the videos, just to hear it at least once before they showed up to class. I told them that, from now on, I would be working with a small group that watched the video the night before but still needed some help understanding, and if they wanted to be a part of that group each day, they were more than welcome. They were somewhat happy about that, but were still skeptical.

At the end of the week, I gave all students their assignment for Monday. It was the usual set of notes, with a link to the video at the top. (Everything they need for this and all future lessons is cross-posted to every possible place they would need to find it, just to avoid excuses.) I also announced that on any given day, there would likely be at least three groups: (1) the ones who didn’t watch the video, who would have to spend the beginning of class watching the video before beginning the day’s assignment; (2) the ones who watched the video and do not need any further explanation, who would begin the assignment as soon as they got to class; and (3) the ones who watched the video but needed more explanation or help understanding, who would be in a small group with me going over any questions they had about the lesson and notes before beginning the assignment. It was up to them which group they wanted to be in. I explained that the size of each group would vary from day to day, but we would work through it together.

The response was mixed. Most of them were very unsure. But some were excited at the idea of being able to work ahead. One student asked if he could work days ahead, and I said yes, but since I didn’t have all of the videos done for the year yet, he would only be able to get so far.

So, all in all, I would consider this week a success, even though anyone who would have visited my Algebra 2 classes this week might understandably disagree. I am really looking forward to next week. To be clear, I don’t think it will go perfectly, but I do welcome the challenges that will make me rethink my process and make it better, for me and for the students.

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About blueshirtkhakipants

IB Math Teacher, Pianist, Canadian, Husband, Father of Two

Posted on December 6, 2015, in Flipped Classroom. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. So I’m planning to jump into the flipping arena next semester. Any tips? I have on-level and honors. I feel like I can use it to differentiate both needs I see in the classes. The need to be more challenged and the need to have more one on one instruction.

    • Congratulations!! You will love it!! Whether you teach on-level or honors, there are two components that are critical. Students need motivation to watch the videos, otherwise they will just wait for you to explain it to them in class. They also need accountability, a way for you to gauge their responsibility for watching and engaging in the video. This can be in the form of an online quiz that is due at the beginning of class. I also prefer to make the videos myself, since I can then focus on what I feel are the important elements of each lesson. The biggest benefit is the one-on-one face-to-face time I get to spend with students now. For more details you can read my earlier blogpost (https://blueshirtkhakipants.com/2015/11/29/flipped-classroom-flipping-on-level-algebra-2/) and you can find my videos here (https://www.youtube.com/user/mrvschee).

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