#myfavfriday 'Flipping' the Classroom

I've been thinking about what I wanted to write about and then trying to decide what to name it. I know flipping the classroom is such a buzz word right now and it has so many different meanings. For me, I'm kind of relating it to @cheesemonkeysf's presentation at #TMC12 about disrupting student expectations through alternative activity structures. Flipping the classroom for me has really meant flipping expectations. 

So far in Algebra II, I have not lectured once. I haven't even made any powerpoints. Everything we've done has been a handout I created that leads them step-by-step through what I want them to learn. I walk around and answer questions and we debrief together at the end. And I am loving it. It makes me feel like a good teacher that the students are doing all the work but it makes me feel like a bad teacher sometimes when I'm just sitting there or wandering around the room. Not only am I flipping the student's expectations of what math class looks like but their expectation and mine of what a good teacher looks like. I'm starting to redefine the role of a good teacher. While this may be commonplace to you, it's like a clarifying moment for me: A good teacher creates opportunities to learn but doesn't necessarily lead them. 

Plus the strengths, weaknesses, and personalities of the students come across much quicker this way. It's easy to see who is needy, independent, cry baby, willing to help others, efficient, easily distracted, a leader, etc.

In Geometry I've (thankfully) been able to use some lessons from last year. But even in my head I've been questioning how can I flip this around into something more engaging? For example, teaching the very very basics such as point, line, ray, segment, plane, etc. I stole a handout from @msrubinmath on points, lines, and planes and modified it for myself and my 'interactive students binders'. And then I wondered, how can I make this more interesting?

I numbered every box on my answer key and numbered each box on their graphic organizer.

Then I cut my answer key up into little squares and handed one to each student as they walked in the door.

Once I passed out the graphic organizer I told them to write what was on the square they had in their hand and then trade with someone else and keep trading until your chart is full. I could easily have just put this on the SMART board and make them copy it or literally hand out a copy. But by mixing things up, students could work at their own pace and not be rushed, have the chance to get up and out of their seats, have some freedom to chitchat, and focus on one piece at a time rather than a page filled with information.

Today's lesson built on that and made the graphic organizer useful. We did my hands-on naming review from last year and students used the GO as a guide for how to arrange their pieces. Again, I could have lectured on the graphic organizer and discussed each part. But I mixed things up by creating an activity that highlighted the usefulness of the GO so understanding it and using it was not a command from me but a demand of the activity. Ooh I like that. Quote, you just got bolded!

So no, I'm not making any videos to send home or anything like that but I am striving to flip everyone's expectations of what learning and teaching math looks and sounds like.

And that's my favorite.


  1. I really like your notions that a flipped classroom means flipping expectations and that a good teacher creates opportunities to learn but doesn't necessarily lead them.

    It feels do-able and sustainable.

    And gives a framework for a week's worth of class to think about how to make each day a bit different in terms of how students will learn compared to the previous day.

  2. I like what you're thinking.

    I know Dan's mantra is 'be less helpful' but I'm thinking mine might be 'be less talkative'.

    How can we better communicate through actions and activities rather than words and lectures?

  3. This post inspires me! I, too, would love to lead students step-by-step without doing all of the talking. If you feel like you can share, I would love to see some of the handouts you have used.

    1. Amy,
      Check out today's #made4math post of mine!

  4. I just found this post today...I love the concept of flipping expectations instead of what many have decided means flipping the lecture outside of class time.

    It is rare that more than a handful of my students really absorb anything from lectures, but I hadn't thought about using the step-by-step instructions in a handout to guide their work. Brilliant!

    Thank you for putting it in a different perspective for me!

    1. Kathy,

      So glad you found something of value here. What a good time to try something new. =)

  5. I really like this idea. Quick question - did you do anything with these terms prior to them making their GO? Or was this their first exposure. Thanks!

  6. Love this activity! I'm looking at it possibly being my first day for next year :) What did you do with the "Lines can be" box?

  7. Would you be willing to share your graphic organizer? I love this!

  8. I am going to be creating a drag and drop version of this for virtual learning! Thank you for the idea