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Adventures into creating a flipped classroom and the lessons I learned.

I know that flip classrooms are not a new concept, but it’s still a booming idea in education. It is an idea to try when you are ready to push your class beyond lectures and notes. I haven’t made it very far yet, but I have learned a lot from my experience so far. Some of these lessons were learned along the way and others were prompt by a lot of reading, questioning, and research into flipped classrooms. Just a quick background on my class setting: urban public middle school, accelerated algebra students in 6th-8th grade (we allow mix grade classes like in high school), 47 minute classes.

Lesson 1: The videos can’t just be the recorded version of the class lectures.

In a normal class lecture, gestures, facial expressions, and student interactions are a large portion of learning. Those aspects of learning are taken away and must be made up for by your teaching experience. You must anticipate student questions more so than in the classroom and try to answer them on the video as you teach. Gestures, like pointing, need to be seen via a mouse pointer or some sort of animation. Students still need the visual and dynamic learning because videos can become very static learning.

Lesson 2: Teach them how to watch the videos and what they should be doing while watching the videos.

The idea of teaching students how to watch and do during the video didn’t occur to me until I saw a presentation on flipped classrooms. I thought that they would just watch the videos and take the notes on there, but I am so thankful that I showed them how to watch the videos. First, I walked them through how to find the video link (which was on my class website space that my school provides for me). I had been using my website already to post answer keys, notes, and Khan Academy videos, but most students weren’t using my website and didn’t know how to get to my website. Secondly, I gave them advice on how to watch it and where to pause. You need to give them permission to pause and rewatch the video because they think that they must watch it all the way through.

Lesson 3: Tell them why you decided to flip the class.

My students like yours are probably ok with the normal notes and class lectures. I had to convince them that it was a good alternative to class notes and lectures because it helps everyone learn at their pace. I had to explain that the videos contain the more basic notes so that we can tackle more challenging work together instead of having them do it by themselves. It also gives them a chance to do homework in class.

Lesson 4: Provide time in class for those who forget to watch the video or don’t have a way to watch the video at home.

i teach 47 minute classes, so I don’t have a lot of time to play with. After the daily warm problems, I give students 15-20 minutes to watch the video either on their own device and headphones or via my projector. I put one student in charge of pausing and replaying the video for those watching it on the projector. If students already watched the video at home, they spend the time doing homework. I circulate the room helping students with homework. At this point, about half of the students are still not watching the videos at home, but I feel that students are still getting used to the idea of watching and taking notes at home.

Lesson 5: Create a calendar or a plan

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I typically print out a unit sheet for the students that contain the standards, homework due dates, and test date. For the first 3 videos, I had confused my students on when to watch which video because my instructions were not clear. For the latest 3 videos, I made a to-do calendar, telling the kids exactly which video to watch on which night. Students were less confused and were able to watch the videos in a more timely manner. You do not have to create a calendar or sheet like I do, but organization is important. Creating a calendar for yourself is important because it keeps you from confusing students and yourself. Flipping a class takes time and being prepared. It’s hard to “wing” a video like you would on an in-class lecture because the video is not like a normal class lecture.

Lesson 6: Find a place to host your videos

I had stored my videos on my Google drive and just shared the link with my students, but as we discovered, this didn’t work well for students who wanted to watch it on their phones/iPods. Youtube was not a viable solution because probably like your school, Youtube is blocked. I found that Teachertube was my best option because it’s free, not blocked, and exposed students to a website that had educational value. Teachertube is a little slow on the school wi-fi, but it’s been a great host.

I have created 6 videos so far and about 2/3 of my students like the flipped classroom concept. They feel that it fits their learning better. it has given me more time to teach concepts and help students gain a deeper understanding because we are able to spend more time on the more complicated problems.

I know that I will continue on this adventure and continue to learn more about creating a more successful flipped classroom. It’s been a lot of forefront work, but I do think that it has been worth it. I feel that I’m catching more students and losing students at the same time, but right now, it’s a good decision for my students. As we hit more complicated and newer mathematical concepts, it may possibly change how my flipped classroom looks and sounds like.

If you have flipped your classroom, comment on this blog with advice and lessons you have learned. if you have not flipped your classroom yet and want to, comment with questions and wonderings you have.

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Author:

I have been teaching math for 6 years. I currently teach middle school math (Accelerated Algebra 1, Algebra 1, and Math 6) in St. Paul. I have taught Geometry and Algebra 2 in the past.

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