Algebra Technology

I’ve Joined the Flipping Revolution

Two weeks into teaching Algebra 2 for the first time in a long time, and things are going great so far, but time to start one of the more potetnially tedius chapters in Algebra 2: Rational Expressions and Equations.  Taught “by the book” this can become a 2-week journey of nasty-looking expressions, scary worksheets and those dreaded “shared work” problems.  A perfect time for me to take my first real dive into “flipping” my classroom.  Here’s what I have done so far:

VIDEOS: I used Doceri to create videos for each of the sections in the chapter.  While I love Doceri (since I can do videos from my couch AND they upload easily to YouTube), using it for this chapter has not been ideal, since the problems get nasty and long quite quickly, and you can’t scroll the screen.  May use SMART Notebook for some down the road.  And a few “takes” were made, as it’s easy to screw up making a video when you have Jeopardy on mute in your living room.  Even my final version of the first video below has, for me, a “cringeworthy” error in vocabulary.  Here are my first two unit videos:

HOMEWORK:  Students have been given notesheets, with the problems in the videos provided.  Their job is to watch the video, take notes, and then complete just a handful of problems related to the idea.  My intent with these problems is not to provide anything tricky: just enough to demonstrate some mastery of the material.  We’ll save challenging problems for class.  All of this material is posted on Edmodo for my students, so they can go back if they need.

Just a few days in, and the reaction of the students has been quite positive.  They appreciate that they will not be given homework designed to keep them up for hours, and that the communication during class time is more whole-class, rather than lecture.  Some more classroom observations:

  • Homework is no longer an ending of a lesson, it’s the beginning of a journey.  Students come into class ready to apply what they experienced.  I have the ability to raise the difficulty of problems based on what I am sensing from the class.  I don’t need to wait until the day after a night of homework struggle to measure my students’ progress.
  • I am not spending a dis-proportionate amount of time at the beginning of class dealing with homework issues.  In earlier years, I assigned homework in the same manner I suspect many teachers do: give an assortment of problems..enough for students to feel successful, but with a few to provide challenge to those students who need it.  The next day, this approach often yielded well-intended, yet essentially wasteful, conversations where I went over problems in front of the class.  From my eyes, this seemed like “help” to the class, when from a wider view it is easy to see these discussions are only absorbed by small pockets of students.  And since the daily “let’s go over the tricky HW problems” portion of the day has been removed….
  • I am planning more investigative experiences into my routine.  Today, for the last 30 minutes of class, students borrowed netbooks from down the hall, and used Desmos to explore possible dimensions of rectangles with fixed area…a set-up for graphs of rational functions in a few days.  Part of this exploration turned into “play with Desmos, and do some stuff”.  Good!  Tomorrow, we will check out a shared-work video, and start making some connections.
  • Students are accountable for their learning.  They are welcome to view the videos multiple times, pause, or skip if they desire.  But, full disclosure….I am doing this now with an honors class.  Looking forward to trying his with my academic algebra 2 in the spring, and reporting out.
  • While I am using class time to tackle the most difficult problems, that is not to say my students to not have rigorous assignments.  Besides the “flipped” homework, I am also assigning more complex tasks, with a two-week window for students to choose, write-up, and turn in problems.  More on this in a later post.
  • I am also “flipping” lectures in AP Stats, through videos my colleague produced last year.  For these, I have created short Google Form quizzes which assess the main points of the video.  The data from these forms have been helpful in clearing up misconceptions during class meetings.
  • I will ALWAYS produce my own videos, or rely on those of my colleague for stats.  My students rely on me to be their guide, and I will always meet that expectation.  I will not let an anonymous guide be the primary source for my class.

Would appraicte your constructive feedback, suggestions, and classroom stories!  Now back to the iPad.


By Bob Lochel

HS Math Teacher. Hatboro-Horsham School District, Horsham, PA.

3 replies on “I’ve Joined the Flipping Revolution”

I was discussing the idea of a flipped classroom with a colleague the other day, we were betting that this is where the next big push after CCSS implementation will go. I am really interested in where this goes and I enjoy the material you presented. Nice to see it in action, I am going to share this with my sites.

I have been flipping for about 2 years in my Geometry and Algebra 1 classes. Screencast-o-matic is my recorder of choice, because it has great editing features, including zooming and a yellow halo that is easier to follow that a mouse. Plus, I can upload easily to my youtube channel. A don’t flip every day. Usually after a quiz or test – so once a week. I also require student to take notes and then answer a short survey via google forms. If it is multiple choice, you can use flubaroo to “grade” it for you. This makes it easy to see what kids made random guesses or really had no clue.

On my first survey for a flipped lesson, I asked students what they thought of flipping (watching videos as homework). About 1/3 said they loved it (rewind, no peers to distract them), about 1/3 said they hate it (no way to get a question answered immediately like they could if they were in a f2f class) and 1/3 said they could take it or leave it.

Flipping isn’t for everyone. It is another tool teachers can use, but I get wary of teachers who see this as a panacea.

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