The Flipped Classroom – Prepare 1

Flipping your classroom is not easy. Not only do you need to create screencasts, which can be time consuming, but you need to prepare for your class each day. I am lucky as I along with some members of my math department at Lawrence Academy created most of the screencasts that we will need for our math 3 (Algebra 2) class.

To have a well-designed flipped classroom, you need to plan way ahead. Screencasts need to be prepared well in advance. Each day I need to prepare student-centered lesson around a screencast. Sometimes I will give the screencast for homework and then prepare a collaborative, creative lesson in class as a follow-up. Sometimes I plan a collaborative, project-based lesson where students have to discover the mathematical concepts that are the goal of the lesson. The screencast will then be offered for homework as a summary of what happened in class.

This all takes a lot of planning. At this point in time (4 days before the start of classes) I have planned out 8 lessons around my existing screencasts. Planning screencasts and lessons way ahead of time is not easy. The best method is to get the members of your department to work collaboratively. I will be meeting regularly with the members of my math 3 team each week. The hope is that we will all exchange good ideas for implementing flipped lessons.

Flipping takes a lot of work and a lot of time.  You need to prepare your screencasts as well as the class lessons.  However, the rewards for you as the teacher and for your students can be amazing. I am looking forward to Monday.

The Flipped Classroom – The First Day Reply

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.

Good luck!