“Why Is It Called A Flipped Classroom?”

(This is an excerpt from a letter addressing common concerns and questions I sent to parents before school started.)

Students’ “homework” will be to take notes, carefully copying examples I explain in detail in online videos using my usual teaching style. We will use class time to work together on activities and practice problems that would traditionally be sent home as homework.  This way, students will work with me, their teacher, on the activities that are the most difficult and where they need the most support.

I try to record most of my instructional videos so they are 5 – 10 minutes in length, with 7 minutes being the most common and only a few going over 10 minutes. Students are encouraged to pause the video as needed while they are taking notes.

Because our school is on a block schedule and classes meet every-other-day, we typically cover two lessons each time we meet.  Many days, students will be expected to watch two short videos to cover two parts of the lesson.  It is more inviting to watch two 7-minute videos than to watch one 15-minute video.  I will provide a video lesson calendar to help students keep track of the video schedule.

Any student who has not taken notes or who does not bring notes to class will use a school computer in my classroom to view and copy the notes at the beginning of class.  Once the notes are complete, the student may join the rest of the class in activities already in progress.

Some students may choose to view the videos several times while taking their notes and others may find they can take the notes in one viewing.

My instructional videos are free for all of my students and their parents and may be viewed as many times as necessary.  I encourage parents to create their own account to view my lessons so the activity I monitor on each student’s account accurately reflects his/her viewing activity.

What To Do With Faster Students

I was recently asked what I do for faster students while I spend time helping students who need more of my help.  This was an easy question to answer as my flipped class addresses this situation beautifully.

Since I no longer lecture in class, this means that the full 90 minutes of class can be used for Algebra activities.  I write a listing of the day’s activities on the board and briefly talk about where students can find each activity and give special instructions as needed.

The order of the list is carefully selected and students know that they are to move to the next activity as they complete the one before.  I plan this list of activities expecting the faster students to accomplish most or all.  I realize that students who work more slowly will probably not get through each activity, so I put the two or three most critical activities early in the list.

We usually begin with a large group activity such as Quiz/Quiz/Trade or a Relay so everyone works together with a group.  Then we might move to a partner activity such as Placemats or Matching followed by a worksheet that is to be completed individually.  I place a red check mark on each correct problem on each student’s individual worksheet.  Because the partners work at different paces, some students will move to the individual worksheet earlier than others.  This staggered pace allows me to spend time with each student as they work on the individual worksheet.  I collect the individual worksheets at the end of each class and give classwork credit in the online grade book.  I do not keep track of or give credit for the group activities.

After the individual worksheet, we often have one or two additional activities such as a Scavenger Hunt or Sum It Up.  This allows individuals or small groups of students additional practice with the new material.  With this plan, the faster students are actively engaged with learning activities for the entire class and the students who work more slowly have time to work through the two or three most important activities of the day with my help.