This year I’m not in a classroom as much as I was last year. I’m not teaching a core content class, I’m only doing small group intervention. That means that I have more time to coach, but I still miss the classroom. A lot. So, when I went to a workshop about using flipped classroom methodologies along with mastery-based learning, I was really excited. But I was also really disappointed. Where could I possibly use this? Certainly not as a coach.
But then! A math teacher I work with, Robin, came to me with a problem: Her students had a wide range of abilities, and she had exhausted her toolkit of differentiation techniques and activities. We talked for a while about what she wanted her students to achieve, what she had tried already, and why she thought it wasn’t working. It came down to students being in very different places in terms of their content mastery. No matter what type of instruction Robin tried, someone always felt frustrated. Kids who got things quickly didn’t feel sufficiently challenged. The kids who struggled were overwhelmed by homework and needed more coaching and support to do things correctly. Jumping in and trying to put together a flipped classroom and looking at mastery learning seemed like a great idea.
Reading About the Flipped Classroom: Starting a Mini-PLC
Our first step was to do some research together. I had dabbled in using flipped classroom techniques, but had never done it fully. She had never done it before either. After some quality time with Google and looking through the resources that I had from the workshop, we settled on the book Flipped Learning for Math Instruction by Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams (ISTE, 2015). We each ordered a copy and agreed to read it over winter break.
If you are a math teacher and thinking about using the flipped classroom model, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is clear and concise, and gives plenty of real examples from classrooms. The book is organized in a helpful manner, taking a teacher through a logic progression of beginning to implement the flipped classroom model and all the way through extending the model to using it as a part of a mastery learning environment.
Taking The Next Steps for a Flipped Classroom
As Robin and I mapped out how she would implement the flipped classroom for math, I started thinking about how I could apply it to my own teaching. I’m still not sure if I can make it work for intervention, but I can try it out in my graduate class. So we’re trying it out together and supporting each other along the way. I’m excited to work together with Robin, even though we’re implementing the flipped classroom model in vastly different settings!