Taking My Flipped Game to a New Level (Off to College!)

--Originally published at Mrs. Gibbs Flips Algebra 1

Last spring I was asked to teach two classes for our local community college. I agreed (spring is a blur, so I'm not sure I can be held accountable for my actions, LOL). Only one of the classes made it: Pre-Calculus Trigonometry.

The class meets one night a week for four and half hours.
That's right. Four and a half. Hours.
This flipped teacher can't stand to listen to herself for more than 10 or 15 minutes anymore.
And I'm supposed to teach for 270 minutes?
And my students. My poor students. They're supposed to listen to me (and absorb) for 4.5 hours?
I knew from the get-go I would be flipping my class.
Everything about this - the class structure, the students, the material - is completely different from my 8th Grade Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 classroom.
But I took what I know and ran with it.
I decided what I needed to cover each week - with only 9 class sessions, it's a TON - and split it into topics for videos.
I decide what to give as practice for material.
I give students a list for each class session with the videos and suggested practice. I give this list a week ahead of time so students can be watching videos throughout the week.
I told them the idea of the flipped classroom: they can watch videos to get the instruction whenever they want, and then they can practice with me so that I can help them.
It's been interesting. Time in class is mostly quiet. Not at all like a group of 20 or so 8th graders. Granted, the class is made up of 7 college males, but it's still pretty quiet. Students don't stay for the full scheduled time. Some leave after an hour; a few stay 3 hours.

The first night after a week of videos was particularly quiet.

The second time of flipped lessons was more of what I was hoping for and expecting. A couple of students worked together, everyone was working on something different, several asked me questions and I got to work one-on-one with students.

That night, students told me they liked the flipped class. They thought my videos were helpful, they liked being able to watch and rewatch and go at their own pace, they liked the class structure. They particularly like that they don't have to listen to me for 4.5 hours.

I think the students are still trying to figure out how to get the most out of the flipped environment. I think they like that they can stay with me for as long - or as little - as they feel necessary, but I'm not sure they're all staying long enough to get the help they need. That might change after they get their first test back. :)

I have learned something about videos that I think I'll implement in my middle school classroom this fall: smaller chunking of videos. One of the first videos I made for Trig was 18 minutes long. Now...these are college students and not 14-year olds, but still. I decided videos needed to be about topics, not entire lessons. That 18-minute video should have been 3 videos. Since that first week, the videos range from 7 to 10 minutes long.

It's time to rework my Algebra 1 videos this year, and I think I'm going to make videos by topic, not lesson. That will potentially mean more than one video per lesson - something I've fought against - but I think it will work nicely into self-pacing. It will also allow students to work with one thing at a time and give me more opportunities for formative assessment.

So...I've graded the first test, and students did about what I expected (there's that benefit of knowing who is where with grasping the material).

The student who obviously doesn't need me and loves the flipped format demonstrated understanding.

The student who stays and works and asks questions also demonstrated understanding.

A couple of students struggled.

Next task? Figure out how to structure a retake opportunity at this level.


  • I bet those students benefited a lot from the flipping! I would much rather work the homework problems with my instructor in the room than listen to the instructor for that many hours and then be sent home to apply what I heard.

  • Hip, Hip, Hurrah for you. Not often even in FLN to read about a flipped class with all the key ingredients of a quiet classroom, individual help from you as your students practice, peer collaboration, self-pacing, and student success.

  • Congrats on getting this gig, Mickie, and especially for making the most of this opportunity with a flipping experiment! Who could possibly be the ‘sage on a stage’ for 4+ hours?!!

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