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Author Biography: Martha Schuur is the Assistant Head of Echo Horizon School.

Having been a teacher for many years, she has experienced the flipped and blended classroom model herself. She experienced first-hand that class time became much more engaging as she switched from being on the stage to becoming a coach for her students. As Assistant Head, she supports teachers in their desire for innovative curriculum. Elaine Wrenn is the Director of Technology at Echo Horizon School. In her role, she works with PK-6th grade teachers and students to integrate technology and 21st century teaching practices into curriculum. She manages a 1:1 laptop program in grades 3 through 6, an iPad/MacBook program in grades PK-2, and the infrastructure that makes it all possible. Since 1998, Elaine has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished Educator for her innovation and vision in the field of educational technology. Activity Summary
This article documents the process and benefits of transitioning to a flipped and blended classroom model in upper elementary mathematics. Class or subject area: Math Grade level(s): Upper Elementary / Middle School / High School Specific learning objectives: Increased comprehension in Upper Elementary mathematics Increased engagement in Upper Elementary mathematics Differentiation of mathematics instruction

Anniversary Book Project

5th

Journey to a Flipped Classroom


By: Martha Schuur and Elaine Wrenn Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND Author contact: ewrenn@echohorizon.org

Flip and blend. This has been the recipe that Echo Horizon Schools 5th and 6th grade math teacher, Kyla Alexander has used to best meet the learning goals for each individual student. Working in collaboration with Martha Schuur, Assistant Head of School, and Ms. Wrenn, the Director of Technology and an Apple Distinguished Educator, Ms. Alexander decided to redesign her math class in order to provide more opportunities for differentiation and student-teacher interaction. They reached out to Julie Garcia, an Apple Distinguished Educator who had flipped and blended her class. In a four person video chat via Google Hangout they gleaned best practices from a math teacher who had first hand experiences with her own math class. The new class design would mean that content would be introduced at night as homework. This is the flipping concept. This would then allow classroom time to be better spent working with the concepts in small groups. The blending component consisted of working with math concepts in a variety of formats through the use of Ms Alexanders screencasts, Khan Academy videos and practice at a multitude of levels, practice on iPad and iPod Touch devices, and problem solving in small groups. The plan was clear in their combined heads, but the execution would be the next step. Ms. Alexander introduced the students to the new format, and they were excited to get started. For homework, the students view a combination of screencasts produced by their teacher and by Khan Academy. The videos produced by Khan Academy are previewed and selected by Ms. Alexander as she determines the best alignment with her class curriculum. In their first week, the students were excited to be able to work at their own pace at night, replaying videos that they needed to review and earning badges by mastering the practice problems. In the classroom, the students rotate between stations. Some days the stations involve iPad or iPod Touch apps that reinforce the concepts that they are currently learning, or work within a group solving a problem. This allows Ms. Alexander time to rotate around the groups, engage with them individually, and evaluate the students knowledge as well as their ability to use the concepts in multiple ways. After about a months time, a student survey was created to measure the students comfort level

with math. Had it changed or stayed the same? Did they enjoy math better now than with a teacher directed whole class lesson style? The survey was anonymous, consisted of multiple-choice questions rating the students levels of comfort and happiness as well as free response questions allowing them to report exactly what they liked and disliked. Our findings were that an overwhelming majority of the students were more comfortable with math since blending and flipping the class. They attributed this change in comfort to their access to videos and new content at home, the small groups in the classroom and use of the iPads and iPod Touch devices. One 5th grader reported, I like that I can learn at my own speed. I can watch the video again if I dont understand it the first time. They (videos) make math

really fun.

Students also noted that they felt they were currently learning math concepts more quickly, again attributing this change to the same three components listed above. The change I noticed was that I was getting math concepts much faster and I didnt have to do as much practice. In addition, Ms. Alexander feels that she has a better understanding of each of her students as her interactions with them have increased. I like learning in small groups with Ms. Alexander because sometimes I need further explanation to fully understand the concept, one student reported, echoing the sentiments of the majority of survey responders.

Not only are the students feeling more comfortable, so is the teacher. She has seen a more rapid acquisition of skills and concepts based on her own observations and periodic essential skills assessments. In addition, she has noticed increased student independence as well as comfort with mathematical algorithms. Also, she herself feels like she is able to be a more effective educator. While the paradigm shift initially required more time thinking and planning, Ms Alexander shared, the investment has paid off in student achievement and attitudes toward learning. The next steps are already being planned. Some of the students will be creating their own screen casts where they will teach their classmates how they go about solving certain problems. This will increase the conversation about different ways to think about any given math problem as well as moving the students closer to content mastery as they become the teacher during the screen cast. Flipping a classroom is a challenging shift in mindset for a teacher. For many teachers who have become comfortable with being the central focus of class time, this design might leave that teacher wondering, What then am I doing during class? This is where a leap of faith is needed. You need to believe in those who have gone before and reach out to allow them to mentor you. In the flipped classroom, the teacher becomes the coach; equally as busy during class time but more effectively utilized by virtue of meeting with the students in small groups, meeting them where they are with the questions that they have, and challenging them to the next task, to think more deeply as new permutations to the content are introduced. - Elaine Wrenn, Director of Technology - Martha Schuur, Assistant Head of School