For an in-depth written history of the development of the Stillwater Flipped Classroom pilot project, please visit our Flipped User Group and Blog on the Promethean Planet website.

Between September, 2011, and January, 2012, a group of 5th grade math teachers will conduct a pilot project called “Flipped Math Classroom”.  Students in these classrooms experienced a new way of learning math that capitalizes on the growing access to technology resources in home environments as well as classroom environments.  This pilot project compared student achievement in the flipped classrooms with student achievement in control classrooms.  

1.  What is Flipped Math Classroom?

In the traditional classroom the teacher generally presents the content during class, and students do their problem-solving “homework” outside of class.  In the flipped classroom, this process is reversed or “flipped”.  Students view much of the the primary content outside of class, then do problem-solving activities during class, using the teacher as a professional personalizing coach rather than a lecturer.

2.  How does this relate to other technology integration activities?

Technology integration specialists in the elementary and secondary schools are currently working with staff throughout our district to implement relevant and meaningful initiatives in many different ways.  These initiatives include  Moodle, Google Apps,  interactive white boards, mobile technologies (iOS), Skyward, web sites, media tools, and many computer applications that are parts of a 21st century educational  literacy.  Flipped Math Classroom is one project among these technology integration initiatives.   

3.  Who were the participants during the pilot phase?

Lake Elmo--- Emily Heilhecker (5), Kelly Hoskins (5)

Lily Lake--- Brad Utzman (5)

Oak Park--- Ali Hinderlie (5)

Stonebridge--- Denise Cote (5)

Withrow--- Robby Hazelroth (5)

There were approximately 140 students involved with this project.

4.  When did this take place?

This pilot project began in September, 2011 and ended January 15, 2012.  At the end of this pilot phase, participants and administrators examined assessment data (quantitative and qualitative) to determine the course of action for the second half of the year.  During the last part of the school year, Flipped Math Classroom expanded to include 25 classrooms in grades 4, 5 and 6.

5.  How did students participate?

Students received instruction on the process, viewed instructional videos, took (online) quizzes, and participated in a variety of classroom problem solving activities.

6.  How was equity of resources addressed?

Under ideal circumstances, all students should have access to the richness of Internet resources both at school and at home.  Even though the number of families who have Internet access in their home environments in our district is large and continually growing, the content of the instructional movies was be made available to all students in multiple formats, including computer Internet access, mobile devices, and DVDs.  Students who had none of these resources had access to a school owned device, such as an iPod touch.

7.  How did teachers prepare and teach?

Teachers participated in a four day Summer Institute, prepared instructional videos with Moodle quizzes, and lead classroom experiences that were hands-on, engaging, and personalized.  Classroom teachers coached individual students, small groups, and whole-class activities that used differentiated techniques.  Because teachers pooled their instructional video resources, they offered their students multiple styles and perspectives for sharing content. Over time, the growth of pooled instructional resources will provide multiple perspectives even within a single lesson.  Video resources created by experienced teachers can be used as models for new teachers.  

8.  Does the content of the flipped classroom differ from the content of the traditional classroom?

No, the content for both types of classrooms is identical.  Both types of classrooms use  the Math Expressions Curriculum (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) with a pacing calendar.  What is different is the process. The Flipped Math Classroom uses home technology resources for content distribution and shifts the role of the teacher from a “master of content” to a “master of the learning process.” At school, the student receives professional guidance while they solve problems.

9.  How will this improve student learning?

The goals of the flipped math classroom are to (a) produce the kind of student achievement  results, as measured by standardized tests, that are similar to or better than the results of students in traditional classroom settings, and (b) increase the opportunities for personalization and levels of student engagement with math.  A traditional classroom uses one pace of content delivery for all students in the class regardless of individual student differences. Greater efficiencies in student learning are realized when students pause or rewind the videos at any time, whenever they do not understand the content. In a traditional setting, students often do problem-solving homework in isolation. With flipped classroom, the teacher is in a better position to observe barriers in the problem-solving process while the student works.

10.  How were students assessed?

Students were assessed using a variety of measures.  Performance data from standardized tests given in September and January was compared with  performance data from control groups. No statistical difference resulted between the performance of the two groups. However, the flipped classrooms (generally speaking) were about two weeks ahead of the the control classrooms on the pacing calendar. In other words, with no dip in performance, students covered more of the curriculum in the same amount of time.

Teacher observations were positive. Flipped classroom teachers liked the process and did not want to return to a traditional approach. Students wrote reflections about the classroom and home processes and provided valuable information that allowed technology integration specialists and teachers an opportunity to improve various aspects of the process. Parents took a survey about their observations in the home environment. Generally speaking, they noticed the attitudes of their children towards math was either the same or improved. They felt that their children were doing better in math, and they wanted flipped math classroom to continue.

11.  What are the implications for the future?

The two key focus areas of the flipped math classroom relating to Vision 2014 are (1)  to increase learning expectations and academic achievement for all students, and (2)  deliver personalized learning opportunities within the E-12  educational program. 21st century learning skills connected with the flipped math classroom include critical thinking and problem solving, initiative and self direction, and productivity and accountability.

Transparency with teaching and learning increases parental involvement with education processes.  After all, parents will also have access to the instructional videos at home and can witness the current methods used in classrooms.

In the new learning ecosystem, learning is framed with any time, any place, any pace learning.  Learning is fast, personal, real-time, and fun. Information is ubiquitous, and knowledge is gained by analyzing information thoughtfully and integrating information creatively.  Students are connected with resources and connected with each other. Flipped math classroom aims to support these principles.

The Flipped Classroom

   Infographic created by Knewton and Column Five Media