Students 'flip' for math in Victoria
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
They might not be doing flips over it -- not yet, anyway. But a new learning method this year is starting to grow on a teacher and her students at Victoria Junior-Senior High School.
Christie Sander, in her 11th year of teaching math in USD 432, decided this year to try "flipped learning," a teaching method where students and teacher do just that: Flip their classroom routines.
Students listen to a 15-minute video from Sander on their school-issued iPads at home in the evening, then work together in groups on their homework during class time.
"I've always wanted to get away from lecturing in front of the class; I don't think they learn very well that way," Sander said of her students.
"It's a hot topic right now, and we teachers always want to grow and learn," she said of the flipped learning philosophy. "I've always wanted to try it, and this year, I thought 'I'm just going to jump in with both feet and do it.' "
Sander uses an application called Schoology to post assignments, videos and other files to an interactive whiteboard called Educreation; students then gain access to the information through the same app.
The students' responsibility away from the classroom is to WSQ -- watch, write a summary two sentences long about the topic and ask at least one question. They also can take notes and even watch the lecture more than once.
Sander said she has noticed students coming to class with a lot of enthusiasm.
"The kids liked it right away," she said. "If they're watching a video at night, it doesn't feel like homework.
"They are doing all their traditional homework in class," added Sander, who teaches seventh-grade math in the junior high as well as pre-algebra, algebra II and advanced math at the high school level. "Someone is there all the time to answer questions."
Sander had experimented with the idea a little last year for students who were missing class for other school commitments.
"It was a little different at first, but once you get used to it; it works pretty neat," said Anna Schmidtberger, a junior in advanced math this year.
Schmidtberger said working on homework in groups has a lot of advantages.
"It helps a lot because if you don't understand something, there's always someone there to ask," she said, "and it helps to get another perspective on it."
Sander said flipped learning benefits the teacher, as well.
"It's forced me to be more organized than I've been in the past," she said.
And the students are learning more than just math in their math classes.
"We are doing reflections of what's working; what do we need to change," Sander said of the whole process. "The kids are learning right along with me."