Yesterday morning my son was very sick, which meant I was at home for the day. That meant cancelling 5 meetings with teachers and planning lessons from home…which got me thinking.
As I researched how to best teach students how to multiply decimals using visual models, I found all of these great videos teachers had created online. So I decided to just borrow their lessons (they had already taken the time to say exactly what I would say – maybe better) to introduce the concept and use my time to meet with students on what they needed most; which for many might not be a 15-25 mini-lesson that could be presented to them in around 5 minutes.
I decided to rip off the band-aid and asked some teachers if I could FLIP the lessons they asked me to come in for today. None of us had taken the plunge yet and I truly believe in the idea…so I decided it was time.
A typical day in math class consists of a mini-lesson that is 15-25 minutes long (depending on the concept) and then transitioning into stations for the remainder of the time. Students work on their adaptive learning program (ALEKS), lesson specific independent practice, fact practice, coding, etc. The classrooms I was going into had just transitioned from station rotations to Must Do/May Do options so the students were already familiar with pacing their own learning. I sent an email to teachers basically asking if I could make their students my test subjects for the day…and they graciously agreed!
Flipping the lesson essentially gained me 15-25 minutes to meet with small groups during the time I would normally be teaching a mini-lesson; 15-25 minutes of focused, personalized teaching time.
When I introduced this to students today I was really honest with them. I said, “we are trying something new. Something I believe in that will allow us to make better use of your time. We might fail, but we will fail together. We might have technology problems, but we will work it out. We will have to be flexible.” And they were.
I talked to them about how I have to prepare for every lesson. How I research the best way to teach them what they need to learn, how I use my time and make decisions. I talked to them about how many videos I watched to find one that really got to what I felt was the most important information presented in the best way and why I decided to use that video instead of creating one.
I explained how I set up their Canvas page to give them a video lesson (which can be repeated if they need to watch a section again to firm up understanding), link to a website to practice what they just learned, a quiz and their independent practice sheet. I talked to them about meeting with me when they got stuck so we could explore some other strategies and what to do if there were no spots open with me at the table (work on another Must Do item until one opened up).
So we did it! We successfully flipped math class today in a 4th and 5th grade room teaching concepts of division with arrays and multiplying decimals using models. We had technology problems. We were flexible.
As a bi-product of that decision, I had the time to help a 4th grader conquer graphing linear equations today in under 4 minutes. I consider that a win.
I got to see 5th grade students demonstrate their understanding of the concept in no time flat, then sit next to them as we figured out some new lines of code they had been stuck on. I consider that a win.
I got to have discussions with teachers about students and brainstorm ideas for how to best use this newly found instructional time. I consider that a win.
I can’t wait to flip two more classrooms tomorrow! I plan on continuing to use videos I find online as well as record my own flipped videos so I can multiply the time I spend in 1-on-1 conversations with kids!