Fast and Furious: Flipped (Math) Classroom

I’ve been reading Casting Out Nine’s blog for years–even before The Chronicle of Higher Ed started publishing his blog. I have a colleague who has a grant to flip a class. I have a grant which mentioned the possibility of flipping a class (so whenever I think I might be ready to get that class started from the rest of the grant, I panic and add more ideas).

So, the inverted classroom has been the topic of many relatively recent posts.

The Manifesto for Students

One of the main goals of MTH 210 is to teach you to become an independent learner who can learn new things continuously throughout the rest of your life. This is a big deal. As you move through your degree and eventually into your career and your adult post-college life, your main value to the rest of the world and to the people you love is your ability to learn and grow without needing other people around to make it happen. There are many times in life where you MUST learn something, and you can’t wait for the next semester at the local college to come around for you to sign up for a course. You have to take charge. You have to learn on your own.

I LOVE THIS.

I wish it would infect my students like a computer virus and never be able to be deleted.

I am not so sure, however, how that is going to work in a classroom.

Almost every class meeting is focused around a single topic… To prepare for a class, you will be given an assignment called Guided Practice. Guided Practices consist of several parts: (1) A list of tasks, called Learning Objectives, you should be able to perform reasonably before arriving at the class meeting; (2) a section of the Sundstrom textbook to which those objectives correspond, along with a reading assignment from that section; (3) a list of print and video resources that will help you attain the Learning Objectives; and (4) a short (short!) list of simple activities to do and questions to respond to that will help you get to know the material and let you know how you are doing on the Learning Objectives.

Hmm. I knew this sounded like a lot of work–for the students–but if so, then it is even more work for the teacher, as Robert Talbert makes clear when he talks about all the YouTube videos he created just for the class. (If they are good, that’s a lot of work. If they are bad, that’s a lot of work wasted. I am not going to look at them. I don’t do math. And I don’t want to be frustrated/appalled/overwhelmed by a quality I can’t match.)

Once you come to class, the first thing we will do is have a very short quiz that covers one or two basic ideas from the Guided Practice. We’ll take those quizzes using clickers, so you’ll have immediate knowledge of your score and I’ll have more data on how you’re doing.
We’ll follow the quizzes with 10 or so minutes of a question-and-answer session based on your quiz performance, your work on the Guided Practice, and any questions you may have submitted on the Piazza discussion boards prior to class.

This sounds good. I like it. I would have liked it in math class… Well, except for Geometry, which I totally bombed, no matter how hard I tried.

However, I am not quite sure how such a think would apply to a literature course. So they do the readings outside of class. Then they listen to the lecture outside of class. Then they come to class and… Do what? Fun activities? I have some. (Games of the Medieval Era. Fashion through the Ages. Who wears high heels now? How do you know the bad guys from your neighbor?)

When will they do the writing? In class? That’s not something I can guarantee they can do in an hour and a half class. Even less sure in next semester’s, which is those horrible 50 minute periods.

Good ideas, though.

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