Flipping the classroom is all the rage these days, and it seems teachers can't go to a professional development without hearing the term at least once. For those unfamiliar, "flipping the classroom" means that teachers provide the lecture as homework (usually through a video), and then students do the traditional homework in the classroom. This is a great idea, especially for math, since students really need support while they work their problems. I can testify that a flipped math class made all the difference for my daughter in 5th grade! As exciting as flipped classrooms are, the question is always asked, "What about the students who don't have the technology?"
Here is my response: THEY DO! THEY HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY! Each year I begin my class with a math activity where the students are collecting data from their classmates. They discover which sites are used by their peers (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat) and how often. My students see this as a math activity, but, really this allows me to see, without embarrassing any students, who has reliable internet access. What I find, year after year, is that ALL (except 1 or 2) have access. Those without it, find it.
1 or 2! Why would I keep all of my other students from an exceptionally enriching program because of 1 or 2 students? That makes no sense.
If you can't bear to leave behind 1 or 2 students, hear this:
I have found that for each of my students, the parents have risen to the occasion. They WANT their kid to succeed, and if they know technology is necessary, they WILL make provisions. One parent was so new to the internet experience, that she called me and I walked her through how to find an internet service provider.
It's time to move beyond this conversation, because access really is not the issue. The true difficulty in flipped classrooms is in students who don't do their homework - they are not watching the videos at home. When they come to class, they are unprepared to work on their assignment.
This is why I introduce the Flipped-Then-Re-Flipped Classroom.
I work with a set of students who often do not complete homework. I accept this as reality, and this is a battle I'm not willing to fight. Instead, my students watch these flipped videos in class and then work on the assignment.
I find this beneficial in many ways:
1. I have streamlined my lecture.
I tend to be long-winded, but by writing my script ahead of time, I can teach exactly what I want to teach in a shorter amount of time. What might have taken me 15 minutes might now take me 3 or 4.
2. My students can replay the video over and over.
When they are working on their assignment, they can go back and re-watch the video. This significantly reduces the number of students waiting for my help.
3. My students become responsible for their own learning.
I tell my students their job is to understand what is being taught in the video. We talk about how these videos can be boring, and it is natural to tune them out. After the video, they need to ask themselves, "What was the video about?" If they don't know, they re-watch.
4. My students become responsible for their own learning (Part 2).
When students forget something learned a few days ago, they know to go back to the videos.
5. Students become their own self-advocates.
In the beginning, I hand all the videos to my students. But throughout the year, I relinquish this, so my students learn to search for videos themselves. They begin to see all the resources they have available. Saying "I don't know how to do it" no longer becomes acceptable.
If you are a math teacher interested in flipping your classroom, I encourage you to try this approach and see what works for you.
If you are a parent, help your student learn to access all the amazing FREE resources. Don't let them say, "I don't know how to do it."
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