It has been a GREAT week!!! My students in my Math 20-1 class have been watching the videos religiously each night. A few of them are still having some technical issues accessing the videos I have created but we quickly worked around this by providing them the videos on a memory stick. If you would like to check out my videos you can access the location where they are posted here. The great thing is that when they have been having difficulty watching the videos at home they come to class "begging" to use a laptop to watch the videos in class. They are taking ownership for their learning. I am not chasing after them and hounding them they are doing this all on their own. I love it!!!
My classrooms looks and feels SO different. I have been able to be a true facilitator of learning. My time is NOT taken up each class "lecturing" but I now get to walk around, help students, clarify misunderstandings and truly see my students owning their learning. I am SO happy about this. I no longer feel like I am the hardest working person in the room. In the past, the students would come to class, I would teach the lesson, they would have some time to work on their practice and they would head home. However, everyone came back the next day with at least one question in the practice that they could not solve. In fact, many students came back very stressed and frustrated because they struggled with the practice. I always felt pressured to "get through the material" during class time. Now, there is no pressure on me. My job is to "help" the students. In fact, I have way more time to do this. I have the entire class to "help". This is a really satisfying feeling. I can honestly say that I get to talk with every single student in my class every day. This never happened in the "old" non-flipped classroom. The students are far less stressed and frustrated because they get help on their practice when they need it.
The students are really enjoying the "flipped" classroom. The only thing they have to do each night is watch the videos and write their notes. This is very low stress for them. Some of them are unable to watch the videos because of work commitments, sports etc.. They come to class, grab a laptop (I have a cart of 30 laptops in my classroom) and watch the video in class. I very rarely have to "kick a kid's butt". They know the routine and they make it happen.
I have really struggled in the past with differentiating instruction in my math classroom. However, I can honestly say that I have differentiated more in one week this semester than I probably have in one month in the past. The videos allow the students to differentiate for themselves. They can pause the video, rewind the video, rewatch parts of the video. Their instruction is differentiated every day. In class, I am able to treat every student as an individual and assist them where needed.
My classroom is noisier than in the past. But, it is a "good" noise. The students are discussing the notes from the night before. They are helping each other complete the practice. They are teaching each other. I am SO happy. I would have to say that, so far, flipping my classroom has been the single best thing I have ever done in my teaching career.
I want to talk a little bit about the technology. It is truly being integrated. The "flipped" classroom is NOT about the technology. The technology allows the flipped classroom to happen. The ease of creating video lessons and hosting them online is made possible by the technology we have today. The computers and the Internet are the "tools" that help me flip my classroom. The technology is necessary to flip the classroom. The technology is not forced it just fits in like a textbook, paper and pencils.
The curriculum states that teachers need to facilitate "learning through problems solving" or LTPS. This means presenting the students with problems and letting them wrestle with them to find a solution. The students work on the skills of reasoning, communicating, connections and visualization. It is really hard to address these skills without having the students work on real problems. These are situations where the students DO NOT know the answers but have the knowledge and perseverance to find the answers. In the old days I would have had trouble finding "time" to do this in class. Now, there is lots of time for this. We have already completed two problem solving activities in this unit. They were Coffee Cups and Bucky the Badger.
After school yesterday, some of the staff got together at the local watering hole. We socialized and enjoyed everyone's company. Some of them asked me, "What are you doing in your math class? The kids are talking about it." This was exciting. I know it is a good sign when kids are telling other teachers about what is happening in our "flipped" classroom. I described to my colleagues what I was doing. They think it is pretty cool. Some of them even think they should try it!!!!
The videos that I have created are not only helping my students in my classroom. I have had students from another Math 20-1 class ask for the URL for my website so they can watch the videos. My oldest daughter attends another high school in town. She is also studying Math 20-1 . She sometimes watches my videos to help herself out. She has given the URL for my website to some of her classmates. This kind of thing is humbling.
Stay tuned for further adventures in the "flipped" math classroom. I believe that the flipped classroom is the future of education.