Mr. Fisch's Algebra class is taught using a “flipped classroom” approach. This class covers the same curriculum and standards as every other Algebra 1 section at AHS, but the way class time and homework are structured will be different. Instead of the more typical math class where the lecture is presented in class and then students do practice for homework, this class will have the students watch the lecture for homework and then use class time for practice and inquiry.
The idea behind this approach is pretty simple. For many students, listening to a lecture in Algebra class and then doing homework at home is somewhat problematic. If they get home and are struggling with the homework, there is often no one there who can help them. As a result, they can spend a lot of time on the homework, often reinforcing misunderstandings of concepts and frequently getting very frustrated. But now, because of the technology available to us, we can “flip” the traditional classroom model. Students can now watch the lecture at home (typically an 8-10 minute video, one to two videos per week) as homework and do the traditional “homework” at school.
This provides several advantages. First, students have more control over the time and place that they watch the lecture. If watching the lecture right after school when they get home works best for them, great. If watching it at school during an unscheduled hour works for them (with headphones), then do it then. If the best time for a particular student to work on this is at 10:00 pm, then more power to them. They can choose the time and location that works best for them.
Second, students have much more control over the pace of the lecture. They can pause the video at any time to study what’s on the screen, and they can replay part or all of the lecture any time they want. So a student that typically “gets it” the first time they hear it can move on to other things and not have to listen to a teacher repeat various parts of the lecture for other students in the class. On the other hand, students that need more time to process, or need multiple repetitions of examples, can control that without the teacher needing to move on to other topics. (Depending on the Algebra topic, your student might be both kinds of students at different times.) And all students can go back to videos they’ve already watched if they need to review a particular topic.
Third, students are no longer practicing in isolation. They now have the opportunity to do the traditional “homework” practice problems in class, where they have the teacher and other students available to help them. If they don’t understand something they no longer have to struggle with it on their own at home and possibly get frustrated because they know they can’t get help until the next day (if the teacher has time). Now they are practicing together, in class, with the support of the teacher.
Finally, this approach also frees up class time to not only practice but to explore mathematics. Teachers often feel pressed to cover the Algebra curriculum in the time we have. By shifting the lectures to outside of class, it frees up class time to practice mathematical inquiry. It allows us time to explore, question and investigate the mathematics, which is not only more interesting for students but leads to a deeper understanding.
In addition to the video lectures that students watch at home, most of what we do in class is also captured via a Smart Board and posted online. The individual/small group practice and discussions that go on in class are not captured (we don’t video/audio record what goes on in class, so it’s still really important to be there every day and participate), but all the planned inquiry and practice that we do as a class on the board is captured, converted to PDF format, and then posted online for student to review when they need to.
Here are some resources that you can view to get a feel for what this looks like:
- One example of a video students will watch for homework. Note that it’s a better viewing experience if you watch it full screen (click the full-screen icon in the lower right corner of the video).
- Link to all the lecture videos on YouTube.
- Link to downloadable versions of all the videos.
- Sample of openers (warm-up type problems) that we often do at the beginning of class.
- Sample of lesson notes from a typical day of class.
- Sample of an online pre-assessment. After we learn a topic but a few days before we assess on it, students complete an online pre-assessment (not graded). They write the problems down in their notebook and try to work them out.. Then when they think they’ve got it, they click the “check your work” button (try it) and they’ll see the solutions. This then gives them a good idea of whether they are ready for the assessment, or if they should get some extra help.
In order to be successful in this section students do need a few things:
- They need access to a computer at home with a high speed Internet connection.
- They also need to be fairly independent, self-directed learners. This class only works for students if they watch the videos and complete the online pre-assessments outside of class, participate fully in class, ask for help when they need it, and generally take charge of their own learning.
If you have further questions about this class please email or call (303.347.6085) Karl Fisch.