Flipping the Classroom? SOLD!

Credits to Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

I love my job ~ educating the children of our future! There’s nothing better than having the opportunity to develop creative lessons and activities that I believe are best for a child’s learning while listening to them discuss new ideas/thoughts and watching their eyes light up when they finally ‘get’ the concept!

I’m always trying to improve what I do in the classroom to better meet the needs of my students. And although I’ve blogged about the idea of “flipped classrooms”, and have even flipped a few lessons here and there, I’ve now gone full force with it. We’ve just finished our second full ‘flipped’ unit and I hope to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

I’ve got to admit that it was a little scary at first – letting go of the control and placing it in the students hands. And to be honest, they struggled at first too. I am an extremely organized and well planned teacher, thus had the entire unit outlined and prepared. As a teacher of blocked classes, I provided this simple outline to the students so that they would understand the new process and expectations:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Lesson Objective(s)

Finish Previous Unit

NO MATH

Apply divisibility rules in order to identify a whole number’s factors and write whole numbers as the product of prime factors

NO MATH

Students will find the greatest common factor of two or more numbers

Students will write equivalent fractions

What’s Happening in Class?

Return summative test; students correct mistakes and complete reflections

Teacher has prepared a quick 5-question check for the start of class. Students then break into groups: a focused learning group or an independent learning group (depending on their individual needs). The independent learning group is free to start working through their problem sets. The focused learning group works with the teacher to receive more review. This typically takes the form of an interactive Smart Notebook lesson. These students then also have class time to work on the problem sets.

Teacher has prepared a quick 5-question check for the start of class. Students then break into groups: a focused learning group or an independent learning group (depending on their individual needs). The independent learning group is free to start working through their problem sets. The focused learning group works with the teacher to receive more review. This typically takes the form of an interactive Smart Notebook lesson. These students then also have class time to work on the problem sets.

HW

Students finish corrections and reflections; get parent signatures

Students watch instructional videos, do online practice problems, and optional activities for our next lesson (posted on the HW page). Students complete reflection questions in google form (link available on HW page) so teacher can plan lesson appropriately.

Students finish the problem sets and correct them.  They then complete the Problem Sets Reflection Sheet (google form; linked to our HW page).

Students watch instructional videos, do online practice problems, and optional activities for our next lesson (posted on the HW page). Students complete questions in google form (link available on HW page) so teacher can plan lesson appropriately.

Students finish the problem sets and correct them.  They then complete the Problem Sets Reflection Sheet (google form; linked to our HW page).

So, in order to plan accordingly, I started by looking at all of the learning goals for the unit. From there, I began searching for online, instructional videos that were aligned with each learning goal. I tended to use videos from Khan Academy and BrainPop most often; these are perfect for grade 6 math. If I couldn’t find a video that connected, then I would make my own.

Next, I knew I wanted to collect feedback from the students regarding their understanding of the skills/concepts before they came to class so that I could plan appropriately … so for every set of videos, I created a set of reflection questions that they needed to respond to while, or after, watching the videos.

NOTE: I started by essentially asking the students the same questions on every video reflection sheet, but realized that they learned to respond with what I wanted to hear. So, I’ve altered my approach and now create different questions each time, including some that ask them to compare a previous topic to a new one and always one that asks them for questions that they might still have regarding the lesson objective. Most of the questions are posed to get the students to think, not just reverberate what they heard in a video. This has been a positive change.

When the students come into class, I have a sense of what I still need to review and can actually post their misconceptions and/or questions up on the screen while addressing them (I can hide the student’s name since the reflection is done in a google form). I’ve attached a sample reflection form, completed by the students. You can see the highlighting that I’ve done in the spreadsheet – these areas represent things that I want to bring up in class. I actually project this for all students to see so we can discuss the questions or responses together.

NOTE: I didn’t post the students’ responses initially, but found that when I did, everyone saw what the others were writing and this encouraged them to put more thought into their responses.

Following our discussion regarding their responses and questions, I project 5 basic questions that the students should be able to respond to in less than 7 minutes. We grade them together and this becomes the design of that class period. For any student who answers them all correct, they are considered independent learners. They gather with other students and begin to work through a set of assigned problems. For any student who misses 3 or more, they must work in a small learning group with me. We use an interactive Smart Notebook that I have prepared. We spend the 10 minutes discussing the concept, creating connections to real life, and finally getting the students up to the board, manipulating various things to try and understand the math better. At the end of our short lesson, they are now independent learners. And finally, for those students who missed 1 or 2 on the 5-question check, they need to do some reflection and determine the best place for them to work.

NOTE: At the start of flipping my class, I had not incorporated the 5-Question Checks, but have found that the students are held more accountable for ‘trying’ the understand the concepts before class with them in place.

Once the students are all working in their independent learning groups, I wander the room. I constantly remind the students that only mathematical conversations should be taking place, and it’s great to hear them. The environment in the classroom is one of open questioning, helping one another, conferencing with one another (including me), and lots of mathematical conversations.

With this model, the students are learning to become responsible individuals for their own learning, advocates for themselves when they don’t understand something, reflective learners, motivated to do more if needed, and resourceful.

This is what I believe powerful learning is all about!

 



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One Response to “Flipping the Classroom? SOLD!”


  • Avatar of Jennifer Anderson Comment from Jennifer Anderson

    As I mentioned Alli, I really think it is amazing what you are doing in the classroom. Not only are you affecting student learning in math you are most importantly affecting students’ habits of learning. You are teaching them the skills of life that will help them to be successful in anything that they choose to do. The amount of work that you have done in making the flipped classroom healthy for kids is considerable and your students are so lucky to have you. To start the flipped classroom, especially in grade 6 is ambitious, but you have made me realize that flipping in a grade level that is so open to new strategies and means of learning is also ideal. BRAVO for your incredible dedication.


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