Hannah Amy stared down at her math problem set, unsure how to proceed.
But instead of getting frustrated, skipping to the next problem or giving up on the homework all together, she simply raised her hand and asked her teacher for help.
“For me, it’s helped immensely,” said Amy, a senior in Karl Viesselman’s Algebra 3 flipped classroom at Northfield High School. “I struggle with math but the flipped classroom really helps.”
Viesselman is one of multiple math teachers at the high school leading the charge in technology integration, so much so that he has completely changed the way he teaches and has redefined the concept of homework.
Instead of continuing to follow the traditional model of lecturing during class and assigning a list of problems students need to complete outside of class, he has flipped the two. Students are now responsible for watching a 10 minute instructional video outside of class and then are given time to work through related problems the following day during class.
“Our homework is to watch the video, which is usually about 10 to 15 minutes long,” said Andrew Dell, a senior in Viesselman’s class. “It’s faster than a lecture in class because you don’t have to stop for questions. You really don’t realize how many times teachers stop to grab a marker or pull something up on the computer. But with the video, all that is edited out.”
If students miss something the first time they watch the lecture, they can re-watch the video as many times as they need to, adding and changing their notes as they go.
“I think it’s more helpful than a lecture,” said Amy. “And if I do have questions on homework, I can ask in class.”
Though Viesselman gives students a specific set of problems to work on in class each day, he leaves it up to each student to decide how many they need to do to master the material. Instead of collecting and grading assignments, he now conducts short homework assessments to determine if students are really keeping up with their learning.
“The goal of the homework isn’t just to get it done, but to really understand the material,” said Viesselman. “We’re giving [the students] more ownership and responsibility in their education.”
While some students thrive in this environment of more individualized learning, others don’t like having to make the call about how many practice problems is enough and miss more interactive class lectures, according to Paul Eddy, another math teacher at the high school.
This new format has also created more work for the teachers, who now have to make and record a video lecture every day during their prep hour or after school, as well as grade an endless cycle of homework mastery checks as students are allowed to retake them until they pass.
“We’ve been busy and putting in a lot of time,” said Eddy. “I’m more tired after a flipped classroom hour, but it’s invigorating. The results we’ve been seeing so far have really been energizing.”
Eddy and Viesselman both agree they are developing closer relationships with students who have a harder time with math and maybe would fall through the cracks otherwise.
“We’re able to meet them exactly where they’re at,” said Viesselman.
Reach reporter Erin O’Neill in Faribault at 333-3132 or in Northfield at 645-1115, or follow her on Twitter.com @ReporterONeill.