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Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Full Week of Flipping My Math Class

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.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this post - it was like I was reading my own diary of the past three weeks in my flipped classroom. I am flipping my Honors Bio and AP Bio classes and LOVE the ability to have one-on-one time with my students each day. I also get to do a lot more in-depth and real-world labs.

    I hope so many more teachers read this and try the flipped model. I will certainly keep reading your updates. Feel free to read my about journey:


  2. Amanda. Thanks for sharing your flipped classroom experiences. Will pass on your blog url to my science teachers. I do hope that other teachers reading my blog will give flipping their classroom a try. It will change their teaching lives for the better.

  3. I am also getting ready to flip my classroom. I am not sure how to operate the class on a daily basis. It needs to be more than just giving them the normal homework assignment they would have received. What does a typical day look like in your class? How do you differentiate (do students get different assignments)? How do you know they watched the video? Have you had students that choose not to watch them on a regular basis and how do you/ would you handle that? I know, lots of questions. Thanks and I look forward to reading your response.

  4. I am flipping my 8th grade Spanish class. We struggle in our building taking 5th place to every other class, so kids aren't watching the videos.

    They have come up with a million reasons not to watch, so I feel like I am back to square one. I think that they just never felt the need to care, and they still don't. Chopped liver city. I see that most teachers flipping are senior high classes. I wonder if that's the difference.

  5. sra_drew,
    If you have access to a cart of laptops, bring it into your classroom and have the students watch the videos in class. Once they start watching the videos they will hopefully see the power of watching the videos and start watching them at home.

  6. Anonymous,

    There never really is a typical day in a flipped classroom. Each day is different. However, here are some ideas. Some days I start the class with some cumulative review exercises to refresh the students knowledge of previous content. Then they work on the assignment.
    Some days I start with a problem solving activity that may or may not be related to the current topic we are studying. Some days we go straight to the assignment. Sometimes I notice part way through class that a large number of students are struggling with the same concept. So, I will hold a 2 min mini-lesson for those students.
    I do not really check to see if the students have watched the video. In my Gr.11 math class, if they have not watched the video they cannot even start the assignment because they are lost. So, sometimes a few students pull out a laptop from the cart in my classroom and watch the video in class. This means less time for them to work on their assignment in class but they quickly figure that out.
    I would suggest you check out this website
    It is created by the pioneers of the flipped classroom Jon Bergman and Aaron Sams. It will answer most of the questions running around in your head.