Flipping over math in Maplewood

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. - The only clue that Rachel Whitney's 8th grade math class has started at Presentation of the Blessed Mary School is the students are at their desks hard at work.

Whitney never takes her place at the front of the class. She remains near her desk as students stop by with their questions.

This year, Whitney flipped her math class, after hearing about the concept at a technology conference with her principal, Michael Rogers. Whitney was intrigued enough to ask Rogers if she could try it.

"I said yes, do it," said Rogers. "So, basically, the flip is the instruction takes place at home, and the homework takes place during the school day in the classroom."

Whitney records the lessons and uploads those to YouTube. Students are responsible for learning the content outside of class. Because they do the "homework" in class, Whitney can address their questions individually. Students can also help each other.

"It answers that age-old question," said Whitney, "How do you meet the needs of every single student when you have 20-some kids and everyone's at different ability levels?"

It also eliminates the frustration students feel if they're trying to work through a tough concept on their own.

"You can ask the teacher for help while you're doing your homework here," said eighth grader Marcus Haskins. "At home you don't really have as much help."

Because students also have access to iPads in the classroom, they can review the lesson at anytime, and also move ahead once they test out of the unit. That can happen in the classroom or at home.

Students say they're doing better work this way. Whitney agrees, and feels students are getting more targeted help.

Next year Whitney plans to flip her 7th grade math class.


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