The Flipped Classroom

In teaching, like any profession, there is no new tool or technique that will magically fix all of our problems or improve everything we do. However, I do believe that, in all professions, we should continually re-evaluate the way we do things and, if we believe there is a better way, then we should use it.

I believe that I am a good lecturer. I try to get my students involved through Socratic questioning and I provide practice problems so that they can try techniques out for themselves. But there are so many students and I can't possibly appeal to everyone and each student has their own unique needs. Some students require more challenge and some students need to fill in the gaps. For years, I've read about a concept called Differentiated Instruction, but no one ever tells you how to do it in your classroom. Teachers try to differentiate, we come up with methods we think will work, we read, we go to conferences, but it's difficult for 1 teacher to differentiate for 30 to 40 students.

The flipped classroom with it's emphasis on watching videos at home and then cooperative learning in class, provides some hope that more differentiated instruction can occur in the classroom. It's partially a time management thing and it's partially a control thing. For years, homework has been an issue with teachers, students, parents and the press. Traditionally, homework has been an issue of great debate. All sides can be argued including : students get too much homework, they get too little homework, they don't understand their homework, they don't have time to do their homework, etc. But, with the flipped classroom, students get a reasonable amount of homework that all students can accomplish (as long as they can watch the videos). Let's talk exactly about the details:

Homework

Students watch videos or read at home and take notes. Students are expected to pause and rewind (or read the book or search the Internet) as necessary until they understand the concept. The notes are the proof that they spent the time studying at home. If a student can't watch the video, they must read their book and take notes from the book or search the Internet. Students are expected to copy down vocabulary words, copy diagrams, write down rules and formulas and copy examples (in great detail). If a student is taking notes from the book, the expectation is that they read and re-read a concept (and possibly try a few examples) to attempt to get a better understanding before class the next day.

Students bring their notes to class and get credit for doing their homework (5 points per day). Students can get partial credit for partial notes- something is better than nothing. Students' homework grades make up 10% of their overall grade.

Classwork

When students arrive in class, they are expected to be ready to work when the bell rings. That means pencil, paper and homework on desk and ready to work on warmup activity. Students will work in cooperative learning groups with 4 students in assigned groups. I will be using Kagan Teamtools software to assign the groups. Students are assigned a set of problems from the textbook- this would formerly be known as homework. Students are expected to stay focused on the problem assignment. I will move around the classroom and observe student activity. I will answer questions as they come up. I will provide supplemental lectures and worked out examples as necessary. Students are expected to be prepared to work right up until the bell that ends class.

Students receive 5 points per day of credit for classwork. They will keep all 5 points for that day if they:
  • Arrive on time
  • Bring all necessary materials
  • Submit the homework that is due that day
  • Are prepared to work when the bell rings (paper and pencil out, copying problems list from board
  • Stay focused and attentive during whole-class discussion and instruction
  • Start independent work promptly, and stay on task
  • Keep working at the end of the lesson until told to pack up
  • Remain in the classroom for the entire lesson (ie. no drink or bathroom breaks)

Students that do not keep to the rules above will lose daily points. Classwork points can be found in Zangle/Q under the headings: Week1CW, Week2CW, etc. If students are missing multiple points on classwork consistently, then they are not doing everything they can to learn or get the best possible grade. The classwork score is there for parents and myself to hold students accountable for dedicated effort.

Students' classwork makes up 10% of their overall grade.

Quizzes and Tests

Most of my quizzes and tests will be multiple choice (just like most math teachers use for their midterms and finals and just like the exit exam, the STAR test, the ACT and the SAT). My hope is that this will help students because they will have an answer they are shooting for. I will still expect students to show their work and I will try my best to give students plenty of time on tests. I may or may not allow students to use calculators on tests. I understand that some students may have problems because they may make a mistake that matches one of the wrong answers. Also, some students might be upset that they don't get partial credit. However, there are benefits to the multiple choice tests that I believe outweigh the negatives. With multiple choice tests, my diagnostics can be more statistical. With less time grading tests, I can spend more time preparing videos, my web site and classroom exercises.

With multiple choice tests, it's easier to cheat, so I will be making up multiple forms of the test. However, I will design tests in such a way that all students are taking a test with the same level of complexity. I design my tests by starting with the state standards and, after I design the test, I plan the daily activities to ensure that students have been prepared for their tests.

Multiple Choice Tests and Work and Academic Dishonesty

I still expect students to show all work on multiple choice quizzes and tests. If I find that a student's work does not match up with their answers, I may deduct points from the test. If a student has multiple problems where the work does not match the answer, I reserve the right to ask the student to retake the test or a similar version of the test with or without multiple choice answers. If a student refuses this opportunity to prove their knowledge, then I will write up a referral and report the student for suspected academic dishonesty.

There will be one test for every chapter and that test will be scored out of 100 points. There will be a test every week or every other week. I may give daily quizzes occasionally. Quizzes and Tests will make up 60% of a student's overall grade.

Midterms and Final Exams

These will be multiple choice. I will be giving students review packages more than one week in advance of the midterm and the final. We will have several days of in class review for the midterm and final exams. Students are allowed to use a reference card for both the midterm and finals. Students are allowed to use a calculator for the final exam. The midterm and the final exam that I give will be made up in collaboration with other teachers. The midterm is the final exam for the first subterm of my classes. The final is the final exam for the second subterm of my classes. The midterm is worth 20% of a student's grade for the first subterm of class. The final is worth 20% of a student's grade for the second subterm of class.

Zangle and Grades

I post current student grades weekly- multiple choice tests help with that! Although the overall grade is important, it's the homework and classwork grades that are really important (because students that do not have good homework/classwork habits tend to do poorly on finals regardless of their chapter test grades). Parents and teachers can work together to motivate students to do better on homework and classwork, so we have some control there. We have less control over test grades.

Tutoring and Office Hours

For the past few years, I've provided free tutoring in the school library on Wed from 3pm to 5pm. We'll see how that goes this year. Regardless, I am usually available before school, at lunch or after school if a student needs extra help. Also, I'm willing to answer questions that are emailed to me at mweingarden@conejo.k12.ca.us

Students and Technology in the Classroom

I will expect all students to abide by the district acceptable use policy for technology. I will provide a link to this policy when it is available online. In the meantime, you may contact the district office if you want specifics. For convenience, here are a few of the more important rules for my classroom:
  • Use technology in the classroom must not interfere with classwork for the student or classmates
  • Technology must not violate the rights of others students (particularly, no sexual harassment or bullying)
  • Inappropriate use of technology will not be accepted including: displaying videos or audio that depict violence or sexual activity (I reserve the right to determine what is appropriate)
  • Technology like cell phones, smartphones, music players, laptops and tablets should only be used when specifically authorized by the instructor

Petitions for Honors Classes

Over the years, I have had a number of students come to me after completing my Algebra 2 class to ask if I would sign their petition to go into Math Analysis Honors. I am happy to oblige a student who has accomplished the following things while in my class: received A's on almost every test and entered into one or more of the periodic math contests held on campus.

Links related to the flipped classroom:



CLU Presentation Links:

  • My Flipped Classroom Policies Page
http://thinkatorium.wikispaces.com/Flipped+Classroom
  • A Khan Academy video that helped convince me to flip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OtSs2xEpzY&feature=player_embedded
  • My schedule of assignments with video links for all lessons for second half of Algebra 2:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AjpjbkuJypgQdEZWOEJIOTg3akZrbnBHbzllVms2blE&single=true&gid=0&output=html
  • My youtube video channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/michael714?feature=mhee
  • This is a flipped forum that I subscribe to:
http://flippedclassroom.org/forum
  • These folks wrote the book on Flipping the Classroom:
http://www.amazon.com/Flip-Your-Classroom-Reach-Student/dp/1564843157/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359151272&sr=8-1&keywords=flipped+classroom
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