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FDSH Tries Flip Classroom - from The Messenger

November 16, 2015


Fort Dodge Senior High is trying a flip classroom for math.

"The basic concept is ... taking what traditionally is done, lecture or delivering material in the classroom, and moving that outside the classroom, and doing what typically is done at home, in the classroom," Bill Foval, FDSH instructor, said.

Students benefit from doing the studying at home and their practice in the classroom, Foval said.

"It doesn't take much out of the student to write down notes and just listen and watch what's going on, that's more of an individual thing," he said. "It's not a group situation, whereas the actual using of the information and working with that information is something the students need a little bit more help with. They need a little bit more guidance."

He added, "The idea is to take some of the frustration of homework, where you're trying to do something that's better done in a group setting, and move it to the classroom, where you can do it in that group setting, get the help from the teacher, get the help from other students."

Students in the flip classroom do more experiments and projects.

"Most of the time you think of math, you sit down and you do problems," Foval said. "We did a lab just the other day where we were trying to figure out how many pieces of spaghetti it would take to hold up 500 pennies. We did an experiment, we tried one piece of spaghetti, we tried two, and we graphed what they had, made a line with that data as best we could, and then did some thinking about how to figure out what we can expect."

A result is that the teacher relinquishes some of the teaching to the students.

"I've actually had to let that go," Foval said. "The students will do the notes at home. On YouTube, I have videos for them that are of me. They'll watch those, they'll take the notes and we'll work on the assignments. So I'm not at the board anymore, directing class. Each kid goes at their own speed."

The assignments are tiered, Foval said.

"Students kind of choose how much they're going to do," he said. "If a student feels they really understand the material and they don't need to do all of the problems in the problem set, they might do two or three and say I'm going to move on to the next thing, I understand this."

This is not the same as giving students a free pass.

"It's really putting a lot of responsibility on the students, to say, okay, I want to learn this, how much do I need to do to learn it, to hold on to it, to continue on with it," Foval said.

The results already have been positive.

"I'm seeing that test scores are typically up about 5 percent for my students, from past years," Foval said. "That's a pretty good amount."

"FDSH tries flip classroom" The Messenger 16 Nov 2015: A8

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