So I’ve begun attempting flipping my math classroom in absolute earnestness and I’ve hit my first roadblock. It began last Friday in class when I set up stations in the library. With our school’s new set of 25 iPads (and the fantastic support of our teacher-iibrarian who had purchased some awesome math apps), I planned out some stations. I had planned 5 stations: three with the iPads and 2 with practice exercises.
The problem came when I realized (seems somewhat stupid in retrospect) that I would be needed at all 5 stations. Since this was our first time with stations and the first time with the iPads, the students needed more support than I could give – at least without more than one of me! So I found myself bouncing from station to station and never getting settled at any one place to actually help my students. So, inevitably, when it came time to assign the homework, I quickly realized that a majority of the class had not completed the practice questions in class and few understood what the lesson had meant.
So I was faced with a dilemma: do I go ahead and assign the practice questions as homework (thus negating the whole purpose of the flip) or should I just accept their misunderstanding, write the class off, and start again next class? In retrospect, I probably should have written the class off and started again next day. However, since this is my first time through Math 8 at this school, I felt under pressure to keep pushing through the curriculum (I knew the other classes were already ahead of me). So against instinct, I assigned the problems as homework.
The next day in class I was greeted by several students who told me they ‘didn’t get’ the homework and (of course) were worried because they couldn’t finish it. So I ended up (as I suspected I might) reteaching what I hadn’t managed to do last class. What surprised me about that is how bad I felt that I had let my class down by sending them away to work on something that I knew they were ill-prepared to be successful at.
The entire episode does point out an issue with the flipped classroom. What do you do when you don’t finish the work you planned to do in class? I don’t want to make my students that frustrated again, but I also need to make sure I’m moving along with the curriculum.