One of my professional goals for the year was to use technology more effectively, so I focused a lot of my efforts at first on using Google Docs and presentation software for kids to do cooperative learning. I have been pleased with how that’s come along, and now I’ve decided to experiment with flipping the classroom to see how it goes. I’m passing along advice I’ve picked up that seems to help.

1. Set norms and expectations.

I let the kids know this unit would be done differently and said I was experimenting with doing practice in the classroom and lecture as homework. I told them I needed buy-in from everyone and they had to agree to watch the videos if we could be successful with an agreement of not having homework. If I assigned a video, they were to watch it and take notes as expected.

2. Accountability should be built in.

One of my colleagues said it’s been helpful for her to structure an activity the next day that requires some knowledge of the material in the video to be successful. Kids may be able to pay very careful attention to the opening problem and catch on, but the activity should be more difficult without the background knowledge from the video. I did this for my flipped lessons and found it was a powerful motivator.

My colleague will sometimes give kids a pre-quiz at the beginning of class to see who watched the video. Kids can sometimes pass the pre-quiz without watching, but in that case, it is clear they didn’t need the video to know the material. I am not yet doing a pre-quiz, but I’m taking a cruise around the classroom with a clipboard to jot down who took the notes from the video, and giving participation credit for that.

3. Keep it short, keep it simple.

I am choosing not to assign long videos. If it can’t be explained in 15 minutes, I will create my own video that trims it down.

3. Use a variety of practice in the classroom.

I like doing cooperative learning and inquiry in the classroom, but if I’m not assigning simple practice as homework, we need to make time for this in class. I decided to provide some richer tasks for group work and also a few practice sheets for solo time.

Here are the first 2 lessons I put together using the flipped model. Overall, I was pleased with how it went and look forward to doing more of it!

Lesson 1: Using flat patterns to understand surface area and volume of triangular prisms

Grid Paper for taking notes during video lesson: flat pattern grids

Video 1: Sketching rectangular prisms and flat patterns (Nets)

Video 2: Khan Academy: Volume of Prisms

Opening Questions: sa_v_opening Kids worked on this while I checked off their notes and conferred with them. Then I called on “volunteers” to share answers and discussed how it related to the videos

Group Work time: flat_pattern_groupwork Students worked on this in groups of 3 or 4. Their task was to create a rectangular box with certain constraints, and then imagine cutting it in half to make triangular prisms and design a flat pattern for the triangular prism. The purpose was for students to move beyond the idea that volume was always length x width x height, and see it as the area of the base x the height. We started with triangular prisms so we had models to work with. I also wanted them to see that the surface area would not be cut in half and be able to describe how to find surface area of a triangular prism.

Practice for the next day: fancy_sa_volume After reviewing the learning from the day before, we discussed the idea that a prism always had a volume of (Area of the base) x (height). I gave the students this sheet for practice.

Lesson 2: Describing how to find the surface area and volume of a cylinder

Video: Khan Academy Cylinder Surface Area & Volume

Opening: cylinder_warmup Students worked on this while I checked their notes and conferred with individuals. Then we discussed the opening problem and how the volume of the cylinder related to the cube with the same height.

Group Work Time: Not finished yet! We just did this lesson before the weekend. We’ll have a problem solving activity involving cylinders that the students will be able to do in groups.

Solo Practice: Khan Academy Practice on Solid Figures Kids can work on this as review / drill and gain points on Khan.

Reflection for me: My favorite part of the classroom flipping is that when we have practice, I can watch each student work through the problems and make sure they understand the content before moving on. With homework, I lose that information flow. Since we worked on the practice for Lesson 1, I have marked up student work and will return it to them to fix and make right before they can do the Khan assignment.

I won’t commit to full-time flipping yet, but I like what I see so far and would like to try it for our algebra unit as well!