The first day of a flipped class is extremely important. This is the day to set the tone for your class and to introduce your students to the concept of a flipped classroom. I want my students to get the experience of working collaboratively on something they have never seen before. I also want them to examine what they are doing and to think about the process of learning. I want to do this all on day one (oy vey).
My first day of teaching I hand out games of Rush Hour to each group of 3 students. Rush Hour is a series of puzzles where players set up cars and trucks on a game grid to match one of forty color-coded challenge cards, and then try to maneuver the red car to escape the gridlock. I like this game because it has many levels of difficulty and students are required to solve a type of problem that they have never seen before. One student in each group writes down the strategies that the other two members are using to solve the puzzle. After solving several puzzles, the students are required to write up a set of strategies for solving a typical Rush Hour puzzle.
My goal is to introduce students to a collaborative environment where they need to work together to solve problems. I also want them to reflect on what they learned which is the point of having them write up a series of strategies. Having them play an unfamiliar game like Rush Hour will steer the students towards a general approach to problem solving rather than creating a strategy for a specific kind of problem. This type of thinking is essential in a mathematics classroom.
Too often students do not understand the purpose of the flipped approach to learning. The students are so used to the traditional way of learning that they often complain that the teacher is not “teaching” them. It is important to begin to change their approach to learning on day one. Changing the way students learn is not easy. However, what is clear is that it must start on day one.