March 10th, 2015
There are some mixed feelings about the Algebra II flipped classroom courses taught at MHS.
Some students love it and are clearly able to reap the benefits from this system. For others, it doesn’t seem to “click” and makes learning harder. Whether the student and their family likes it or not often depends on how well the student is doing and how hard they have worked.
The term “flipped classroom” means exactly what it sounds like. The classwork and homework in the course are switched. Instead of listening to a lecture during the class time, the students work through a question packet, asking questions of their teacher and classmates when necessary. For homework, they watch a 10-20 minute lecture video that teaches them the lesson for the next day.
“One downside is that students have to watch the videos. If they don’t watch the videos, then they are really not getting the lessons,” admitted Mr. Jensen, a teacher at MHS running a flipped Algebra II classroom. “It puts a lot of the responsibility back on the students. Now, some like that. Some really thrive in that, some don’t.”
Mrs. Rowanhill, a physics teacher at MHS who also flips her classes, agreed. “It is on the students to watch the videos and if they don’t do it and if they fall behind they have a much harder time keeping up.”
It is all too easy for students to copy notes from a friend, or “watch” the video while actually watching TV. If the students don’t watch the video, “watch” it, or don’t understand it, then they won’t understand the lesson. This almost certainly means that they will struggle to learn the material.
It also means that, since they lack the necessary responsibility to do the 15-30 minutes of work asked of them each night, those same students also don’t like the flipped classroom concept and have decided that this style is not for them.
Though the teacher often spends some time at the beginning of the class reviewing the previous night’s video for clarification, it is still important that the students actually watch the video themselves and strive to understand it to the best of their ability.
During the spring semester of 2014, Mr. Jensen made the homework videos as his class went along through the course. Often, he would assign a video that wouldn’t be up on Blackboard until a little later in the evening because he still had to record the lesson.
It takes a lot of work to set up a flipped classroom, which is perhaps why there are so few of them offered at MHS as of 2015. Most of the Algebra II courses (not all), a few of the physics courses, and only some chemistry classes are taught in this fashion.
In fact, due to complaints from some first semester students of 2015, even less Algebra II courses are taught with a flipped classroom format for this second semester.
There are plenty of students who work hard, do well, and love this course. Ma’ayan Amar (’18), and a member of Mr. Jensen’s Algebra II class is one of them.
Amar said: “I really enjoy the flipped classrooms because it saves time. . . sometimes it’s a little confusing. . . but I wouldn’t really say there were any negative aspects.”
Many students agree with her. They love the shortened homework and lecture time.
Though there is limited data to go by, students have collectively been doing just as well in terms of grades during the flipped courses as they have been in the more traditional classes.
Some teachers like the concept of a flipped classroom. It sounds appealing to have some relaxing semesters with minimal lecturing and prep work, once all the videos are done.
The negative side to this is the semester it took to create the videos.
There are numerous pluses and minuses to this style of teaching, so the questions are: where is this going and will there be more flipped classrooms in the future?
Whether there are more flipped classrooms in store for Monticello students is yet to be seen.
Jenna Driskill (‘18) and Cassidy Wells (‘18) hope that they are enrolled in some flipped classes in the coming years.
Wells said, “I think that flipped classrooms are a lot more efficient.”