When I first began the Flipped Classroom I planned for my students to watch a video at home each night in lieu of doing traditional math questions. This after all is the standard concept of the Flipped Classroom. Yet things have changed a lot since then. I now have a significant percent of my students who rarely do any math at home, and I think that is awesome!
Huh? It’s awesome they aren’t doing math at home? Yes! I am not a strong believer in homework, I think students spend enough time in my class doing math and they shouldn’t HAVE to do more, unless they want to. What I like about the Flipped Classroom is it gives those students who struggle more opportunities to use their own personal time to work the content. I have some students who do a ton at home, and I think that is great too because they are making a personal decision that in order for them to be successful they need to put in additional time. Since my videos and formative assessments are available online students have greater flexibility to access the course as much as they need when they need. Ok, back to this no homework thing……
So…..how did things all change? First, I need to explain that my school runs on a semester timetable where students have 4 classes a semester and 2 two classes a day. So, as an example I teach my students from 9:00-12:00 with a 15 minute break in between. (I know what you are thinking, that’s a lot of math! It is……) With this timetable I had initially planned for students to watch a video at home, and then a video at school to keep pace. Yet, rather than students getting done two lessons a day as I originally planned, they are finishing that and more (and I think the learning is deeper now too!). We still start each class with a review and some discussion on our current content, we usually do a short activity (journal, whiteboarding, game, etc.) and then the remainder of the class is work time. I have created a checklist where students can see what they need to get done. The list includes journals, quizzes, assignments, and math labs. So when I say ‘go’ students do what they need to do and having no homework has turned into quite the incentive.
The classroom time has turned into a fluid time period where students take responsibility of their learning and their time. Many students find that they have enough time to get their material finished and stay on pace so they don’t need to take anything home. I, as all teachers do, have some students who are mentally or physically off some days for whatever reason. Perhaps they are sick, are having family problems, just broke up with their boyfriend…. I let these students ‘take it easy’ some days as long as they understand they may need to do some work at home or later on to catch up. This is more humane than the harping I used to do in a traditional model because before students could not get caught up on their own….. Students are responsible for themselves now, I am no longer the puppet master……..I am hoping this will pay dividends when they attend University and the High School handholding ends.
I was originally concerned with the idea of giving students videos each night for homework but I am happy to see how time has evolved in my Flipped Classroom. This next month I will be conducting my Master’s Research where I will give my students a survey to look at their perceptions of the Flipped Classroom. One of the questions looks at how much time they spend doing math at home in compared to a traditional math class. The anecdotal responses I have heard from students indicate they are doing less, so we’ll see what the survey indicates the same. I love how the Flipped Classroom has allowed me to have more discussion, more learning activities, and more time with my students while also reducing the amount of work they are doing at home.