The last time I was on mat leave I came across a infographic on pinterest about a flipped classroom. It caught my attention and seemed really interesting so I looked into it a little bit more. After reading a little more about it I decided that I wanted to try it when I returned to work. Last year I made it one of my professional goals and I must admit that I really enjoyed flipping my classrooms. This is something that might be more difficult to do for some subject areas, but I teach high school math so it seemed to be a great fit. I thought I would share my thoughts and experience on how a flipped classroom changed teaching for me.
For anyone who doesn’t know what a flipped classroom is, it can be easily described as a classroom where lessons are taught outside of school using video lessons and homework is done in school so the teacher can be there as a support. This sounded like it make a lot more sense to me than a traditional classroom where you teach students for 30-45 minutes some days which leaves very little time for students to work on homework and get help from you. Students in a traditional classroom often go home, attempt to do homework and get stuck. With no one to help them when they get stuck, they stop trying and the homework is left unfinished.
I was able to find youtube videos and websites such as Khan Academy and Math10.ca to help me build my video lessons for students. I don’t have a smartboard so I had to find the resources online to match the lesson that I would normally teach on the board. I created handouts for the students to complete as they watched the videos. Here is an example of a handout the students would receive 4.6 Examples. I use Edmodo to upload videos and handouts as well as post homework assignments and reminders for students. For anyone unfamiliar with Edmodo here is a brief video on what it can do for you and your classroom.
Obviously this type of classroom won’t work for all teachers or students but here are some things I learned from my experience.
- It really keeps students accountable because they must watch the videos in order to learn the material for next class because it will not be taught. There were times I knew students would struggle with an important part in the video and I would teach that again the next day to help clarify any issues. Some students took a few days to understand that if they don’t watch they will fall behind quickly.
- I like that students can always access the videos so it is great for reviewing. I also like that students can stop and start the video whenever they want. They can rewind it or replay any parts they might not understand and it allows them to work at their own pace.
- Using Edmodo allows students to ask me questions at any time and it is easier to respond to than emails. It is possible to complete a question and snap a picture of the work to upload for a student who has a question about homework.
- It allows so much more time to answer student questions and help them while they are in class. This is so beneficial to students who struggle.
Some of the negatives from my experience…
1. Students missing a video – usually with these students I had them use their class time to watch it on their phone or a laptop. This way students were losing out on the time they could be getting help from me. It didn’t take long for them to realize it was a waste of time to watch the video in class.
2. Sometime the videos were a little long but it should have never taken students more than 20-30 minutes to complete the handout and watch the video. This is probably the same amount of time they would be doing homework for math at home anyways but sometimes it seemed like a lot.
3. Students were a little resistant at first but they adapted really quickly. Some students may not adapt and will not be able to work in a classroom like this so other arrangements would have to be made for those students.
I was fortunate enough to work in a school where no parents complained and all students had access to some type of device at home where they could watch the videos. We also had access to devices at school most days so if students missed a video they would have to watch it in class. In order for the flipped classroom to work you really need to use something like edmodo to work as a communication channel between you and your students. Edmodo also allows parents to join so they can follow updates on exams, assignments, homework etc. Edmodo is also great for students who may be absent from school. They can check edmodo at the end of the school day and see what they missed from the day.
I wasn’t sure how the flipped classroom would go, but I am happy to say that I tried it and it worked for me. I thought that since students seem to be connected to technology all the time that they might think it’s kind of cool to have a class that was sort of online. I was worried that students would think I didn’t know the material or wasn’t smart enough to teach so I just made them watch videos, but no one thought that because I was able to help them in class and answer any questions they had.
If you have any questions about the flipped classroom, please don’t hesitate to ask. I encourage you to try it some time. Maybe even start with one or two lessons and see how it goes. I really enjoyed it and will continue to do a flipped math classroom.