Friday, September 16, 2016

The In-Class Flip and the Magic

Since flipping my Algebra 1 classes two years ago, I have tried to figure out how to successfully flip my Pre-Algebra classes.

My Pre-Algebra kids are different from my "pre-AP" Algebra 1 kids. Less confident, less motivated, many of them trying to be successful despite learning disabilities and obstacles at home.

I decided early on that watching videos at home would not work for my Pre-Algebra kids. I tend to not give these kids homework, anyway. And if a large percentage of them enter class having not watched a video (usually only 1 or 2, if any, of my Algebra 1 kids don't watch a video), it would make each day's class difficult and stressful...for them AND me.

So I've been contemplating an in-class flip with them for over a year, but I wasn't sure how to organize it. Some in-class flippers use stations, but I wasn't sure how that would look for me.

I did a few in-class videos with last year's Pre-Algebra group, but I started late in the first semester. After the pretty successful "flipped review," I no longer made any videos for Pre-Algebra second semester. I'm not exactly sure why I didn't; it just didn't seem to click with that group, or I had too many other things going on, or all of the above.

I changed my order of topics this year (again, LOL), and we started with equations, which is the content for which I made videos last year. So...let's use those videos this year! Kids were exposed to flipped lessons starting around the third week of school. We discussed how to watch/interact/engage with an educational video.

The kids took to the flipped process right away. Many talked about how they liked the videos over a "normal" lesson. One young man said, "I like the videos; they sort of force you to pay attention."

I'm not ready for a completely asynchronous classroom - I like group and class activities too much - but flipped days have become self-paced days. I give the students what they need to accomplish for the day, which normally includes a video and some practice. Students like that they can watch the lesson at their own pace. They are getting better at asking questions at any point in the video where they are confused. After finishing the video, they have something to immediately begin working on. My partner teacher and I get to work with lots of students one-on-one as they practice.

We flip a couple of days a week, and then the rest of the time we get to do the collaborative activities. We've done speed-math-ing (blog post coming), bingo, scavenger hunts. Students have worked together while doing otherwise-boring skill practice, helping each other, talking math, finding success.

And the magic is happening.

I would say this group has a better understanding of solving equations than almost any of my previous Pre-Algebra groups. Sure, they're making they typical sign errors, but they KNOW the process.

They're talking math. To me. To each other.

Their confidence is high. I have put a couple of equations in front of them, telling them to wait and let us work them together, and I am met with a chorus of, "That looks easy! We can solve that! Let us try it first!" They are often finding and correcting their own errors.

I think a few parents and students are using the videos at home.

Make-up work has become MUCH easier.

I am seeing GROWTH in students. Students who could not solve a two-step equation two weeks ago are finding success with many multi-step equations. Their work looks beautiful (gushing math teacher here). I am seeing beautiful smiles as I praise effort and progress.

I can't claim that the in-class flip has made all the difference. These students have been working with common-core based standards, deeper thinking, and collaborative work for several years, and each year I can tell a positive difference in the mathematical abilities of my students.

But I think the in-class flip is another piece of the puzzle I have been searching for to help grow my developing mathematicians.

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