F L I P P I N G T H E M AT H By HS Math Teacher Julia CL ASSROOM Penn Inherent in teaching math is a tension between breadth and depth—covering all curricular topics in a given course often comes at the expense of engaging students in rich problem solving and mathematical thinking (a.k.a. the fun stuff). This year in my Calculus Core class I’ve managed to spend more class time on the fun stuff by implementing a “flipped classroom.”
W H AT T H E F L I P ? In a traditional math classroom, a teacher introduces new material through notes in class, then assigns practice problems at home. The Flipped Classroom reverses the location of these two activities: students watch videos and take notes for homework, freeing up more class time for exploration, practice, and problem solving. About once a week, I create a video “lecture” introducing a new topic and assign it for homework. I try not to make videos longer than 20 minutes, as I’ve found my students’ attention starts waning if my videos are longer than 15 minutes. Students are responsible for watching the video and completing any “You Try” problems I include (usually one or two problems). Students report spending about 30 minutes on video notes. This year has been a learning experience for me, but I’ve found the benefits wider-reaching than I anticipated. Not
only have I minimized the breadth vs. depth dilemma, but my students report feeling more successful at tackling difficult problems and less stressed about the pace of learning.
YOU HEARD IT FROM THE STUDENTS I recently talked with my students about what they like and don’t like about this classroom model and, spoiler alert, there’s not much they don’t like. Coming into class after video notes for homework, students feel more prepared for what comes next. “You go into class and you’ve already seen everything once,” says Senior Dylan McAfee, “so it makes it easier to learn the material.” Senior Jordyn Lemer appreciates the extra time to let the content sink in: “It’s able to sit with me overnight and then I get to class and ask [the teacher] questions… Sometimes when we take notes in class and then go straight into problems it’s a little hard to process.” Taking notes from a video also gives students more flexibility to move at their own speed. “I don’t have to rush and I can go back and pause it,” says senior Nina DeCola. “If I don’t understand something I can watch it again.” Nina finds that her notes are better organized when she takes them from a video. Videos also remain on my Youtube Channel, which Nina says she references when studying for tests and quizzes.