Good morning. My name is Deb Wolf and most years I am a chemistry teacher at Roosevelt High School. But this year, I am the coordinator of a technology grant for 35 middle/high school math and science teachers.
But first, bear with me for a moment while I set up a scenario for you. It’s my job to teach you to ride a bike: I give you a lecture over bicycling, demonstrate how to ride and give you 2 weeks to learn how to ride the bike. At the end of the two weeks, I come back and I give you a test on your biking skills. (You’re doing pretty well, but you’re having a little trouble with left turns and stopping.)
I give you an 80% - a “C”. In evaluating your ability to ride a bike, I would say that you can do this with 80% competence. That’s a “C” grade. Alrighty now that we’ve all learned how to ride a bike, we’re moving on to…
Unicycles. Now, as ridiculous as that sounds…isn’t that what we do?
We lecture, give students an opportunity to practice, give another lecture, give some practice, another lecture and practice and then give the students a “snapshot” exam. And no matter what kind of scores students get: 80, 85%, 90%, or even 95%...the class moves on to the next topic. And even that 95% student, what was the 5% that they didn’t know. Is that information essential to understand what is coming next? I think that by doing this, students wind up, over time, with a sort of “Swiss Cheese” understanding of content. Even some very good students early on, if the holes in their understanding are of important enough content, begin to struggle. “I understood how to add and subtract positive numbers, but I’m a little rough on what to do with negative numbers, especially if we’re subtracting.”
A question asked by these teachers is “what is the best use of class time?” Again, I want you to think about a traditional math class. The teachers spends a majority of the period explaining the new material for the day and then sends the students with their homework of “practicing” that material. However, what happens when the student gets home? How do they handle it when they get stuck on the homework? They MAY wrestle with it, they may ask their parents, they may call a friend, they may wait until the next day and stop in before school to ask their teacher. They MAY do these things if they have good study habits. But mostly likely, they will just be “stuck.” They need the practice, but cannot practice. What if…instead…class time was used for the practice and the homework were the dispensing of information?
Let’s start with the extreme: The chemistry teachers at RHS and WHS, a physics teachers at LHS, an algebra teacher at RHS and the AP environmental science teacher at LHS have all flipped their classes. Homework becomes watching lecture.
Transcript
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The Flipped Classroom TIE Conference Tuesday, March 5, 2011
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