UJH Math: Flipped Lessons that Moves Students to a Self-Pace, Differentiated, and Personalized Learning Culture

I wanted to take a moment to highlight our math teachers in our building. In our initial meetings at the beginning of the school year, they both expressed the desire to develop their own curriculum for a flipped classroom. Specifically, we discussed creating content that over time could lend itself to allowing students to proceed at their own pace. I began to think about ways that they could deploy content to students that were both engaging and interactive. We began to discuss how the could begin designing their own lessons, having student proceed through those lessons stopping at certain points to practice what they had learned, then allowing students to demonstrate their own understanding of what they had learned.

After completing the above steps, the overall goal would be to allow students to be able to develop a hands-on authentic project that would reflect what they had learned through the lessons. Such a format would allow the flexibility of the teacher to engage all students in the lesson, to assess student progress and provide support to struggling learners, allow for enrichment activities for those who could demonstrate their knowledge, and also provide students a chance to solve problems for an authentic audience. While flipped learning environments can be extremely successful, if not assessed correctly they can become lectures and worksheets that are simply done digitally and that is not what we wanted. The desired outcome would be to place students in lessons throughout the self-paced math course that is aligned to their needs and skill set. From that point, they will advance to the next skill that is required of them for the course.

The Technology
The first obstacle to overcome in this process is to have an understanding of how to implement the technology that would be used to create such a classroom culture. We are a district that is pushing close to being 1:1 with Chromebooks throughout. I was tasked with the challenge of developing a quality method for them to develop videos that were user-friendly for both teachers and student and would meet the needs of our stakeholders. While in my cycle with our math teachers, the technology integration has been the focus. We know what our desired outcome is for our students, and how such an instructional practice will meet their needs. Understanding how it would be implemented would be our focus. One of our teachers has started to implement these practices, taking small steps in deploying the new strategies. The other is preparing to do so as well, and will most likely be implementing such strategies in the weeks to come. While I will be in a new cycle with new teachers, this is something that I will go back and work with the math teachers as they continue to develop this concept. Like I said, first was the necessity to master the technology they would be using for this endeavor, and this has taken time. Let's specifically look at what one teacher is doing to prepare these lessons.

Technology: The lessons
So far, one math teacher has created and recorded lessons on an Ipad using the App Doceri. Doceri is an application that is typically used to turn your Ipad into a SmartBoard. There is a client that runs on the desktop computer. When you connect your Ipad through the computer, it allows for the teacher to be in control of the computer from the remote Ipad. It also allows the teacher to annotate on top of whatever screen is active. The added feature allows you to record your lessons and export them. There are also whiteboard and many other overlays that are available to the teacher to use. This is how our math teacher recorded her lesson. She is rolling these lessons out in steps in order to ease into the process, as well as properly assess and reflect.

Step 1
The teacher recorded four, 3-4 minute lessons and created a playlist within YouTube for the students to follow along. She wanted students to get used to following along with a video such as this.

Step 2
Using the same application, the teacher created a 10-minute lesson for students to follow along with. As they proceeded through the lessons they answered questions regarding what they were watching in the video. The advantage is that students could go back and watch the video as many times as they wanted to understand the content, and gave the teacher a chance to move around the classroom assessing student understanding in the process. What I witnessed, was that several students asked questions that would never have been brought up in normal classroom direct instruction, and students were engaged in the video and asking questions.

Then, students had to solve two-word problems that reflected what they learned in the video and through the practice problems. Students used their Chromebooks to demonstrate their skills. They used two applications to meet the needs of the teacher. The first was an extension called “Ziteboard,” which is an application that displays a whiteboard on your screen. You can choose different colors and can endlessly scroll to add more and more white space to your creation. The second application we used was called Screencast-0-Matic. This is an application that I had used for years, but is now available through HTML5, in other words, its a Chrome Extension now. Once students had their Ziteboard up, they hit record on Screencast-o-Matic. From this point, they not only solved the problems on their Ziteboard, but they also verbally worked through their logic on how they were solving their problem. I was extremely impressed with how the students did, especially after they got over the sound of their teacher recording herself on the Ipad. In the future, we will also be exploring the use of Annotate.net. I believe this web-based application has enormous potential for these teachers specifically. 

Step 3 (Future Target)
Using the same concepts she has developed in Step 1 & 2, she is also interested in using an application such as EdPuzzle in order to engage her students in thought throughout the recorded lesson. This is something we will explore in the future.

Step 4 (Future Target)
Once students are used to this format of instructional delivery, we are also interested in developing the lessons so that when they are done with their own video, the students create their own projects that reflect what they have learned through the videos. The idea is that we can identify some authentic problems that could be solved using the math skills developed.

Step 5 (Future Target)
The final goal to this project would be to continue to develop these strategies and create more and more lessons. As the teacher develops more of these throughout the year, then next year she can use data such as STAR or formative assessment data to identify the skills that need to be addressed on a per-student basis. Instruction can then be differentiated, personalized, and self-paced to meet the needs of the learners. It also provided an opportunity for the teacher to work with students in a 1:1 or small group session to work on skills that may not have been demonstrated successfully, while allowing other students to progress as needed. This potential possibility is what I am deeply excited about!