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Flipping Elementary Algebra

Flipping Elementary Algebra

flip_EA_blog

This semester I am teaching two sections of elementary algebra using a flipped classroom model. The approach is different than the way I have flipped my statistics course, but has been very effective. I am relying heavily on MyMathLab outside the classroom.

For each section that we cover …

  • Students complete a “Flip” assignment before the material is discussed in class.
    The assignment contains conceptual videos that introduce each topic as well as videos of examples where problems are worked out.
    After students finish the videos, there are a handful of problems that they have to work through, and all of the learning aids (except “Show Example” are available. Students can try each problem as many times as they would like.
  • The “lecture” period is intended to involve active learning.
    Some days begin with a class driven recap of what they learned in the Flip assignment. I count on students to drive this discussion, stepping in only when I have something to clarify or add. I mostly ask questions and wait for students to respond.
    Most days involve group work or collaborative learning. Some days students turn in their assignments. Other days we go over answers as we go, or I ask students to share their answers and strategies at the board.
    Every day is different, and I am looking for my students to be as agile in their learning as I am in my teaching.
  • After class, students take a 5 question “Reflect” quiz that focuses on the problems that I feel are most important.
    The results on the student’s first Reflect quiz attempt load a personalized HW assignment, containing 3 exercises associated with each problem on the quiz. If a student gets a problem correct on the first quiz attempt, they get instant credit on the personalized HW for the 3 associated problems.
    Students use the personalized HW for self remediation, then they can go back and take the quiz again as many times as they would like to.

One question many have about flipping the classroom is “What do you do if students arrive unprepared?” In my experience, having the Flip assignments due for a grade motivates students to do them. Also, because they hear their classmates participating in the discussions and contributing during “lecture they feel more compelled to be prepared themselves. I have seen some of my students in the tutorial center in the morning before class starts trying to get some help to make sure they understand the material, and that can only lead to good things.

I am happy with the way things are going, and I am progressing towards less discussion at the beginning of class as my students become stronger. It gives me (& my embedded tutor) more opportunities to walk around during class and talk to students one-on-one, clarifying as we go.

The classes just took the exam on Chapter 3 (Graphing lines, equations of lines), and 61 out of 71 students passed the exam. The mean score in each class was in the high 80s, with median scores of 92 and 93 in the two classes. This test was very similar to the test I gave last semester, but the results are much stronger. On to systems of equations …

Are you flipping your classroom? I’d love to hear what you are doing. Interested in trying this approach? Please leave a comment on this blog, contact me through the contact page on my website, or reach out to me on Twitter (@georgewoodbury).

I am a mathematics instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA, as well as the author of algebra and statistics textbooks with Pearson.

Why >= How: Homework 

Why >= How: Homework 

I hear many instructors lamenting that their students are not doing their homework to the instructor’s satisfaction. If we agree that homework is an important part of the learning process, then it is important to tackle this problem. 

Do your students know why they are doing homework? Don’t be so sure that they do. Many students do it because it’s part of the game, because they are told to do it, because they get points for doing it. They should be doing homework because homework can increase their understanding. You cannot assume that they know this. 

On the first day of class I often ask my algebra or pre-algebra students “What do good students do?” They can develop quite a list of good student behaviors – coming to class every day, taking notes, doing homework, studying, etc. But when I ask why they take notes I hear crickets- everybody seems to do it, I’ve always done it, … We have a quick discussion about what notes are for, how to use them after class, and what belongs in them. 

In my class homework does not directly impact a student’s grade unless they are passing exams. I make sure that students understand that the goal of the homework is to increase their understanding, and that will be measured on the exams. Equally as important: the goal of doing homework is not to simply accumulate points. 

Because my students know why I assign homework they understand its importance. They do not view it as some sort of busywork. And they do it. And they do it well. Of course we have discussions about how to approach doing homework in such a way that students will maximize their learning, just not before they understand why they are doing it. 

#ICTCM16 – My Session & Schedule

#ICTCM16 – My Session & Schedule

Looking forward to my session on the importance of student discovery in developmental math at ICTCM this weekend in Atlanta. I will be sharing innovative approaches for getting your students involved in the discovery of material. When students are engaged and thinking the chances for understanding and success dramatically increase. The session is on Saturday morning from 9-9:30.

I will be walking through Interactive Statistics in the exhibitor’s room from 10-10:30 on Friday morning. This is the new product I worked on with Mike Sullivan. I will show how our interactive assignments get students engaged with the material and develop true conceptual understanding.

I will also be giving a walk through of my 4th edition of my combined algebra textbook from 12:15-12:45 Saturday afternoon in the exhibitor’s booth. This eText contains over 3000 new short videos – both conceptual and solutions to examples & quick check exercises.

If you want to discuss any of these ideas, or if you are interested in the place of technology in developmental math or in student motivation, track me down and say hello.

See you there – George

Problems To Use In Class

Problems To Use In Class

One thing I like to do in class is end with a short assignment to see how well students understand the material from that section. There are a couple of short quizzes that are available in the 4th edition of my combined elementary & intermediate algebra textbook.

First, in the Video Notebook (located for students inside MyMathLab) each section of the notebook ends with a 5-question self-assessment quiz that works really well for this purpose. I selected 5 problems that I feel cover the important concepts from that section. If you have access to a computer projector you can easily display the problems on the screen, but you can also write them on the board. Depending on the amount of time I have at the end of class I might ask students to volunteer to share their solutions on the board or I might simply write down the correct answers. Other times I collect them and grade them by hand.

Another similar 5-question quiz can be found in the Instructor Resource Manual, which is located inside of MyMathLab under “Instructor Resources.” These 5 questions are different that the questions mentioned above, but they can be used in the same fashion.

These quizzes are similar to the 5-question “Reflect Quizzes” that are built in to MyMathLab which are assignable & associated with a personalized homework assignment.

If you have any questions about these ideas, either leave a comment or reach out to me through the Twitter, Facebook, or Email links at the top of the blog – George

Quiz Inspections

Quiz Inspections

As my students are getting ready for their final exam, I assign a MyMathLab quiz that is connected to a personalized homework assignment. There are 36 questions on the quiz, with 136 related questions on the homework assignment. For each question a student gets right on the quiz, all related problems (typically 4) are removed from the homework assignment. This allows students to focus on the problems they struggled with, which is one of the most important factors in preparing for a cumulative exam.

Certain students have earned the right to have a quiz inspection before they turn in the quiz. When they finish the quiz, I ask them to email me before they submit the quiz. I then pull up their quiz in my grade book, and tell the students which problems are incorrect. If there are typos, I tell the students what they are. If I can tell what a student has done wrong, I let them know. Otherwise I let the student know where they can go to review that type of problem. This gives students a chance for remediation.

Only the first quiz attempt loads the homework, so getting a chance to rework the quiz before submitting it is much appreciated.

It does take a little time to do this. I had approximately 30 quiz inspections this semester. Luckily, students make many of the same types of errors, so I am able to copy & paste much of my feedback.

I’d encourage you to give this a shot. I got the idea from an instructor (Rob Knight) while playing cards at the CMC3 conference in Monterey. You never know what you are going to learn while playing cards. Rob mentioned that he did this for every quiz. As a man of moderation, I only do this for this one quiz in particular.

– George

MyMathLab Corner – Instructor Exchange

MyMathLab Corner – Instructor Exchange

This week I am starting a new feature on the Instructor Exchange, tentatively titled George Woodbury’s MyMathLab Corner. The plan is to post an article on the effective use of MyMathLab each month. In the first article I will outline what I view as the key benefits of using online homework, as well as potential pitfalls. In upcoming articles I will discuss how I handle these problems.

I will post here once the article goes live.

– George