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The Flipped Classroom for Math Instruction

Posted on 09/26/2011

Flipped Classroom

A flipped classroom is one in which students watch lectures and receive new information online at home, and use classroom time for practice and feedback from teacher and peers on areas where understanding is lacking. For example, the teacher might record the presentation of a lesson on fractions and post the video or audio recording online. Students would then watch the video and do some practice problems before coming to class. If the practice activities were online, the teacher would have instant access to results before class. Then class time can be spent on the areas of difficulty, and students could even be grouped according to area of difficulty.

This might sound the same as reading the chapter before the class, but the difference is that the presentation of the new lesson happens at home, and the practice (which we generally think of as homework) is done in class with help available.

There is particular interest in this model for teaching math, and the Khan Academy Web site has been cited as a source for presentation of math concepts. A recent article in the Boston Globe describes fifth grade math classes in California using the flipped classroom approach and the Khan Academy videos. They found after one year that the proficiency rate increased from 23 percent to 41 percent. The model is now being implemented in all fifth and sixth grade classrooms.

Although this model isn’t currently widely applied in adult education, and there are clearly some challenges to doing so, such as home Internet access and persistence of students, it’s an interesting approach and was discussed recently on the national Technology and Distance Learning email list.