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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Journey in my Flipped Classroom

This coming week will mark an entire month in my "flipped" math classroom. This week has been very interesting. I have had all kinds of teachers at my own school (Cold Lake HS) come up to me and ask me to explain what this "flipped" classroom thing is that I am doing. This is a good sign. If other staff are asking questions then maybe they will try the same thing. Apparently the students are talking about it a lot with their other teachers.

When I am out and about in Cold Lake I have had parents and former students approach me in public to discuss the flipped classroom. The parents love it!!! The former students are asking me why I did not do this when I taught them. They believe they would have learned better. I am starting to think that I have created a really good thing here. If people are approaching me in public and raving about the "flipped" classroom that has to be positive. In the past most people just said hello and kept walking.

The really strange thing occurred last Saturday. I was out working in the yard at my house. I had stopped, for a moment, to talk with the neighbour. The house across the street is for sale and a realtor was showing the house to a prospective buyer. She stopped showing the house, left her customers and walked over to me and said, "Are you the math teacher from the high school?". I replied, "Yes". I was bracing myself for an abusive comment. She said, "I recognize your voice from the videos my son watches each night. Great stuff!!". I thanked her and she returned to showing the house. Apparently I have become somewhat of a celebrity. Watch out Khan Academy here comes Mr. Kaminski!!!

This past week I started implementing formative assessments at the beginning of each class. I wanted to see if the students really understood what they "supposedly" learned the previous day. I place a couple of questions on the board and have my students use mini-whiteboards to work in partners to obtain a solution. I have the students show me their solution. Most of them are kicking butt. However, the few that had some misunderstandings, I get a chance to clear up the issues. This formative assessment will continue to be a daily part of our routine.

Another benefit of the videos is showing up. The beginning of October is prime moose hunting season in northern Alberta. I have students that are going to miss an entire week of school to go moose hunting. Every single one of them has asked me for a list of the videos they need to watch so they can work ahead before they go hunting. I am smiling!!! They get it!!! It does not matter that they will miss class. They have a way of keeping up with their studies. The only problem has been that video production has had to kick into high gear. I am usually about 1 week ahead of the class. Now I have to get 2 weeks ahead so that these students can benefit from watching the videos before they go hunting. Oh well. I do not mind this kind of problem. It is for the benefit of my students.

Stay tuned next week for an update on the adventures in my "flipped" math classroom.

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