kitchen table math, the sequel: Flipping the Classroom: Hot! Hot! Hot!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Flipping the Classroom: Hot! Hot! Hot!

Susan Kramer watched her packed 10th grade biology class weave through rows of desks, pretending to be proteins and picking up plastic-bead “carbohydrates” and goofy “phosphate” hats as they navigated their “cell.” As they went, they explained how the cell’s interior system works.

It’s the kind of activity her students love....
Lectures Are Homework in Schools Following Khan Academy Lead by Sarah D. Sparks | Education Week | September 27, 2011
10th grade?

Really?

They're 15 years old and they love weaving through rows of desks pretending to be proteins and picking up plastic-bead carbohydrates and goofy phosphate hats as they navigate their cell?

hmmmm...

Granted, Flipping the Classroom is Hot! Hot! Hot!. But still.

31 comments:

TerriW said...

I'm a little torqued at Khan Academy right now. Audrey and I were watching some of their videos the other night and she really liked them, so I thought, hey, let's give this a whirl.

As it turns out, in order to use any of the other features of KA, you have to have your students be able to log in with either a Google or Facebook account -- both of which require the user to be 13. This is a much discussed problem on the web, and when the "best" solution offered is that you lie about your child's age to make them an account, you know you have problems.

I can only assume that school/institutional accounts have some sort of separate workaround available to them, otherwise I'm sure in would have heard about this problem before now! Anyhow, I wish they would fix it. I'd like to use KA, but I'd like to be able to do so without resorting to, you know, *fraud*.

Allison said...

I've complained before, and will again: does Khan REALLY THINK that the biggest problem in today's schools is TOO MUCH LECTURE?

Because if KA is just going to be used by schools so that conventional schools can do even more charades, puppetry, and baking than they do already, I'm against it.

Genevieve said...

Both my 3rd grade daughter and I use Khan and she does her work under my login.

SteveH said...

What, exactly, is the problem? How, exactly, does flipping solve it?


"It’s the kind of activity her students love, but one that would normally take Dr. Kramer several classes’ worth of lectures and procedures to set up, and thus be hard to find time for."

Assuming that what kids love is effective, the idea seems to be to move some prep work out as homework to free up time in class. But this can be applied to any type of classroom process, including lecture. The assumption is that, somehow, online video lectures are more effective as homework. Is there any evidence that video lectures are more effective? Are they less boring for the average student?

In this case, it appears that giving more homework allows for these special learning events in class. We just have to assume that these class projects work. Since these events take up a lot of time for what seems to be a little bit of learning, what happens at test time? What magic happens that gets kids to work harder and/or learn more easily?



"WHY do we have to just sit there forever, listening and answering questions? Why can't we do something in class that's actually interesting?"

"Makes sense to me."

So says Catherine Gewertz on Education Week.

Is this student somehow going to be more interested in watching video lectures online? Is that the benefit? Are teachers so bad at lecturing that really passive online videos are better tools? Online video watching is about as passive as you get. You can't stop the teacher to ask a question.

So, the problem is not that lecturing is a poor way of teaching, it's just that the flip model allows teachers to avoid it completely. If they don't see bored kids, then the problem doesn't exist? It reminds me of the notes I used to get from schools telling parents to work on math facts with their kids. Have kids do the hard work at home so that teachers can feel all warm and fuzzy in their active learning environments.

I don't see anyone talking about student progress over an entire K-12 curriculum. Educators just look at what walks into the classroom. The goal seems to be to achieve some sort of/any sort of learning in each classroom. The goal is to motivate and engage students as if that is the only thing they have left to offer.

What's worse, educators seem to think these solutions are then somehow best for all students. Engagement and motivation without regard to whether there is a lasting effect and whether the material is covered and mastered.

It's easy to assign more homework. Are the kids really watching the videos? Are these prep videos or are they lecture videos? How long before kids find out that they really don't have to watch the videos carefully, or at all?

Flipping allows educators to do the fun stuff and puts the onus of learning even further on the shoulders of students.

Genevieve said...

The activities described above seem to be what many parents want for their children.

Yesterday I was talking about middle school with 2 other parents. They were very disparaging of lecture and positive about "active learning". They both want their children to go to the IB middle school (which is less that a mile from where we all live, but not the zoned school for our children).
The science activity they described seemed similar to this, except it involved the heart, red blood cells and oxygen.

I'm still not sure what I want. Apparently the alternative is a 50% chance of having a weak science teacher at our local middle school. There might be lectures, but they are poorly done.

lgm said...

The Teaching Gap by Stigler and Heibert compares and contrasts three different ways of teaching math (US, Japan, Europe).

For us, lecture does not work. My sons and I are visual (like 20% of the students); most lectures are auditory and don't allow sufficient processing time. As a college student, I transcribed and then went home and digested, bringing questions to study group or office hours. As a high school student, I read the text in study hall and digested or I took the class independent study. My sons do not have a text and are not allowed to videorecord, so they are up a creek unless I can negotiate a text or other learning materials that go with the class. They can then take questions to school tutoring sessions.

Khan lectures are good in that they make up for teachers who are incapable of getting the necessary details across in the lecture time. My sons' entire Gr. 5-7 at school math experience was filled with omissions that were simply resolved by flipping open a Dolciani book or going to the online text publisher for 'reteach' sheets. Frankly, in our experience, NY's idea of core basic doesn't teach enough of the pre-reqs for the higher classes.

We love AoPS online math classes. They are very similar to my college courses in presentation and thinking demanded, but because it's not auditory, it is easy to process, then catch up with the instructor. The course ds took was like some included courses - there were extra people to help the 'lost' on the side so they didn't detract from the day's intended goals by taking the instructor's time or the attention of the student sitting next to them.

We love our high school science courses. First off, the science dept allows students to transfer sections, no questions asked as long as a seat is available, so auditory learners can find a lecture only teacher who will basically read the book to them and they can memorize it in class, then do their thinking on the test. However, many of the younger teachers know multisensory techniques and allow processing time. The retention and understanding gained from class is tremendous when compared to auditory. Most of these teachers have banked problem sets w/answers accessible as well as a website with ppt slides from the day and linked resources. The Spring Valley High School Earth Science web site by Charles Burrows is an example.

The other bottom line on Khan is that some people read faster than the video can impart info. Good texts will win in a time crunch.

Catherine Johnson said...

very annoying - I just wrote a comment & my college "OpenNet" swallowed it

sigh

Catherine Johnson said...

I wonder if I can find the link for the Direct Instruction video that was posted ages ago.

The trainer -- this was a video of a professional development session -- had a precise formula for how many questions to ask during a 'lecture.'

As far as I can tell, lecture per se isn't a particularly good way of teaching. I think Teach Like a Champion discusses this at some length (I'll check).

"Lecture" (at least in my experience and reading thus far) needs to be a highly dynamic back-and-forth between teacher and class, complete with "cold calling," which I do in my class.

Plus you need HUGE quantities of repetition in a lecture if anything is going to stick. I think the continual questioning probably helps students and teacher both know what needs to be repeated more than it already has been.

That's what's so 'wrong' about the notion of watching lectures at home: an awful lot of good lectures are shaped INSIDE THE CLASSROOM by the audience response.

Watching a lecture isn't like watching a movie or a TV show. The 'lecture' shifts in response to the living audience.

Catherine Johnson said...

That said, I'm not 'against' large lecture classes in college....although, like lgm, I always had to practically transcribe the lecture in order to follow it.

People always tell you not to transcribe a lecture, but it's essential for me.

Catherine Johnson said...

Khan lectures are good in that they make up for teachers who are incapable of getting the necessary details across in the lecture time.

So far I haven't had luck with Khan for **exactly** the same reason students have trouble learning from a straight-out lecture in the classroom. He talks to fast and moves too quickly.

The fact that you can hit pause and repeat just isn't a solution -- not for a child who is struggling and unmotivated in the first place.

I watched one of the Khan videos on the distributive property, and it was obvious it would be a waste of time for the very bright student I've been tutoring.

The yourteacher videos, on the other hand, seem potentially VERY helpful.

The teachers in the yourteacher videos talk much, much more slowly and deliberately.

Catherine Johnson said...

As it turns out, in order to use any of the other features of KA, you have to have your students be able to log in with either a Google or Facebook account -- both of which require the user to be 13.

oh for heaven's sake

I would just use Genevieve's solution.

Catherine Johnson said...

I've started watching the Khan videos on China, trade, currency pegs, etc.

This is an area of macroeconomics I'm really struggling with.

e.g.: Michael Pettis (an economist who teaches in China) seems to say that when one country deliberately pursues policies that result in that country having a trade (and current account) surplus, that automatically puts private citizens in the current account deficit country into debt (or much higher indebtedness than they would be if their country weren't running a deficit).

(I'm not positive this is what he says, but I think I've got it right.)

I'm having trouble understanding the mechanism, and I think the Khan videos will probably help.

So far, they are, as with the distributive property video, too fast. But for me that's fine; I do hit the pause button, and I do watch several times.

We'll see.

I didn't have good luck with the SAT videos. On the few occasions when there was a problem I really didn't know how to do, the Khan videos were so fast and so confused that they didn't help at all. In one case, Khan made a mistake in the middle of his answer and then ..... didn't correct it (?) I can't remember now, but the videos aren't professional undertakings. If he makes a mistake midstream, he doesn't do a re-take.

TerriW said...

I loved lectures in college. I am primarily a reader, but I found what worked best for me was the one-two-punch combo of reading the text + hearing the lecture -- same material, presented slightly differently, somewhat like viewing a stereoscopic photograph.

The very worst for me were the sessions that involved too much student participation -- I was working full-time to pay my portion of tuition, and every time I had to listen to someone who was obviously wrong, sucking up, or just wanting to hear the lovely dulcet tones of their own voice, all I could envision were quarters streaming out of their mouths, my tuition money washing away. (If only they were just quarters. I actually did the cost-per-minute calculation one day and it depressed me greatly.)

Barry Garelick said...

Plus you need HUGE quantities of repetition in a lecture if anything is going to stick. I think the continual questioning probably helps students and teacher both know what needs to be repeated more than it already has been.

Correct. I think the term "lecture" is misleading when applied to K-8, or even K-12 math. Direct instruction perhaps (lower case di, not DI), would be a better term, and it doesn't mean the teacher just talks and the students listen. There's back and forth questions, having students work out problems, etc. But the term "lecture" is being interpreted to mean the same as college lecture.

Allison said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to give the impression that I think k12 should be a format where a teacher drones for 50 minutes. But teacher led interactions where teachers engage students using words, pictures, models, manipulatives and then interact with the class is better than the students are peer led to do charades for biology.

Khan's stuff is conventional. I fear that khan is liked precisely by those who were good procedurally in the first place, and emphasizes all of the things that lead detractors to inquiry based math in the first place. All we are doing is reinventing these two poles instead of teaching in the middle.

lgm said...

Barry, many m.s. and h.s.teachers here do give a college-style lecture. The only bow to high school or middle school is they'll hand a stack of notes to the students or they'll allow time for students to copy off the board/overhead/ppt. Students will at times be allowed to work on their hw in class, but there is no discussion of solutions to problem sets in these teachers' classes. I serve as the discussion person at home when luck of the draw forces my kids to be in those classes. Full inclusion and lack of grouping by acheivement in pre-reqs has taken away some of the traditional back and forth that use to go on in a lecture/discussion just so the teacher can get through the material on class time and avoid the class turning into a remedial help session.

Genevieve said...

I'm going back to school in the fall. I find Khan useful to revisit topics I last had 5-10 years ago. I refuse to pay for classes twice. I think the videos would not be sufficient for students that have never seen the material. That said, the science videos are limited by the lack of practice problems.
My daughter uses the math practice questions as a supplement to what she has in school. She only uses the videos when she gets stuck. However, sometimes parent help is needed.
She is required to spend 20 minutes each day practicing math facts for school. However, the school doesn't provide any materials. It is nice and easy to just tell her to go to khan and pick a topic.

palisadesk said...

I don't see the Khan videos as being any kind of instructional breakthrough, precisely because they are not interactive. As Catherine pointed out, with weaker or less motivated students, the demonstration moves too fast, is often poorly worded, and repetition or replaying a segment does not necessarily help. It is certainly no way for struggling students to learn new material.


Some middle school kids I worked with last year used the Khan videos to review procedures like multiplication of decimals, finding the lowest common denominator, and so on. They dutifully watched, replayed and tried to do the problem along with Salman Khan, but were easily confused and would not, I think, have been very successful without a teacher (me) being present to step in.

As for the "flipped classroom" -- I say hahahahaha. Maybe in well-to-do areas. No school I have worked in in the last 15 years has had more than 15% of students with internet access at home. So much for those "digital natives."

SteveH said...

This reminds me of the old discussions on discovery learning. There is nothing wrong with discovery, but what, exactly, is it. What is flipping? What is lecturing? You have to look at the details, expectations, and results. You can always trade slower coverage for more fun and deeper learning - in theory, but you better get something in return. In many of these techniques, the goal seems to be motivation and engagement and not necessarily mastery of a specific set of topics.

When I read the articles on flipping, the assumption is that we know what they are talking about. I don't. It seems to be about having students watch Khan videos at home and then talk or act out the material in class. This could work, I suppose, but I would have to see the details. It might be easier to get some to watch a video rather than to read a book. I expect that the novelty would wear off and many students wouldn't bother to watch the videos.

Just as with discovery, the technique might work best only if expectations are set higher. I doubt that would work for an average mix of students.

Mr. Parker said...

"They're 15 years old and they love weaving through rows of desks pretending to be proteins and picking up plastic-bead carbohydrates and goofy phosphate hats as they navigate their cell?"

Of course they like it. It doesn't require much thinking, they get to move and talk to their friends, and boom, class if over.

Jen said...

I was thinking the same thing Mr. Parker -- it's sort of like having a sub and getting nothing done, but with your teacher's explicit approval!

In high school my teacher for math in 11th grade was rumored to have a drinking problem, though I have no idea if that was true. I do know that every couple of weeks if we wheedled, he'd read a math short story or two aloud to us instead of having class.

Same thing -- no worries, no homework, pleasant waste of time!

ChemProf said...

lgm - this is why I am not a fan of powerpoint or similar tools for college lectures. They are too "canned," and if you use it, you absolutely need to pass out your lecture notes or make them available somehow. Powerpoint is nice if you want to show images, but not for the whole thing.

Of course, I am a known Luddite -- I still just use the board 90% of the time. I teach a lot of problem solving material, and the board is the best collaborative tool. I also like it that I can train my students to actually put down their pencils and listen to me for a minute or two, because they know I will write a summary statement for them on the board. For me a "lecture" means introduce the concept, write the summary and definitions on the board in outline form, work a problem, have the class work a related problem.

A couple of years ago, I was on two search committees, in chemistry and math. For the mock lectures, every one of the candidates used the board, and used it as a way to incorporate student feedback into the lecture.

Catherine Johnson said...

I think the term "lecture" is misleading when applied to K-8, or even K-12 math.

YES YES YES YES YES

All lecture forms require a great deal of repetition, but when you're 'lecturing' developmental college kids, or middle & high school kids, you have to repeat A WHOLE LOT.

Speaking of which....I'm contemplating whether I can tell my 'failed spaced repetition' story....

nope

don't think I can

Suffice it to say that there was one thing I repeated in every single class this semester -- repeated with great fanfare and intensity -- and on the last day of class I discovered that at least one student had no idea I had ever said what I said.

This was not a writing concept, btw.

The constantly-repeated thing was a departmental rule about the final exam.

How many other students didn't hear it?

(AND I didn't just repeat it ever class; sometimes I repeated it several times in one class. It was on the syllabus, too, but nobody ever reads a syllabus.)

Catherine Johnson said...

Mr. Parker wrote: Of course they like it. It doesn't require much thinking, they get to move and talk to their friends, and boom, class if over.


lollll

Yeah, that crossed my mind

oh, man

what a world

Look!

STUDENT ENGAGEMENT!

woo hoo!

Catherine Johnson said...

palisadesk wrote: It is certainly no way for struggling students to learn new material.

THANK YOU.

Why is no one saying this???????

I myself have TRIED to learn new material -- not even new material, but new problems on the SAT using OLD material I knew -- without a great deal of luck.

I've watched one of the Chinese debt videos, and it's pretty good -- but I've already spent a lot of time reading about currency, currency wars, current account deficits and the like.

I still had to watch the video at least two times to follow it.

CHILDREN aren't going to learn math they've never seen before from the Khan Academy.

Catherine Johnson said...

Steve wrote: When I read the articles on flipping, the assumption is that we know what they are talking about.

yup

Catherine Johnson said...

lgm wrote: Barry, many m.s. and h.s.teachers here do give a college-style lecture.

ditto that

ChemProf said...

Catherine - if you just say it, they won't remember it. I think that is simply a rule, no matter how many times you repeat it. I've found that I have to write it on the board, point it out to them, and encourage them to copy it into their notes. And even then someone won't know I said it.

And yeah, no one reads the syllabus. That's why you have to spend the first class period basically reading the darn thing to them, at least for first year students. But our assessment people are sure that if we just put the course goals on our syllabus that student engagement will improve.

Catherine Johnson said...

chemprof wrote: if you just say it, they won't remember it.

no doubt!

The crazy thing about this item is that it's emotionally charged: the department administers an exit exam that is make or break no matter what a student's grades during the year. If they fail the exam, which is not graded by me, they fail the course.

I didn't just tell them this fact, I ENACTED the thing; there was a lot of oomph involved every time I brought it up.

Oomph helps, at least according to the research I've read.

I think next time I'm going to have them just write a paragraph explaining the policy.

Maybe I'll have them write a paragraph and take a short-answer quiz.

Catherine Johnson said...

our assessment people are sure that if we just put the course goals on our syllabus that student engagement will improve.

So that's why everyone's putting goals on his/her syllabus!

sheesh

In my web-trawling, I come across numerous syllabi. When I do, I often read the course goals.

Reading course goals has never made me feel engaged that I can recall.

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