McComas flips her classroom

Ashley McComas uses a flipped classroom method with her classes.
Feb. 14, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Students at R-S Middle School will leave class today with no homework. Instead, when they get home tonight, they will watch a video of their math lesson.

Ashley McComas, math teacher at R-S Middle School, is using a flipped classroom method to inspire her students to work harder.

"I have the high level kids but their grades were not very good because homework was an issue. They would do well on tests and quizzes but they would have bad grades because they would get zeros for homework," McComas said. "So I was on the internet trying to do some research on how I could fix this problem, because their grades should be a reflection of what they know not how much they do. And I came across the idea of a flipped classroom."

The flipped classroom uses technology to allow students to view or listen to the teacher's lecture at home. The teacher can then help the students with the material during class time.

McComas uses her Bamboo Tablet to record her voice and makes instructional videos using flip charts. The videos go through the math units step by step.

"I make the videos while I am at home. I have a classroom website and the students can click on the units and watch different videos. They have to write a summary that answers essential questions that go along with each one, that is their homework," McComas said. "They watch the videos, which are me talking and taking them through the steps. These are the same flip charts they would have seen in class and we would have done together, except I went ahead and did them at home using the tablet."

The class recently completed their first unit using the flipped classroom. McComas says the grades reflected a positive change.

"The first test that we did after using the flipped classroom for a unit was the first test that I did not have anyone make below a 'C'. That is a huge change from how the tests were before," McComas said. "I had them do a survey after they took the test at the end and I had 100 percent vote to keep the flipped classroom."

The students can watch the videos as many times and as often as they like. They then have the background knowledge when they come into the classroom. McComas says this allows her to give them more challenging problems during class instead of just worksheets.

"Now they can watch the video at home, and those that struggle can pause it at any time, go back and listen to it again. They have really taken advantage of it. Those that really want to do well, but just were not as quick as others, it has been wonderful for them," McComas said. "Those that are really good at math can watch videos in advance if they feel confident in the material, they can go ahead and move on to the next thing. It is a good way to differentiate the learning. The ones that learn more quickly can pace themselves and the ones that take a little longer can get more examples."

The videos that McComas makes are downloadable, so the students can watch them even if they don't have Internet at home.

"As long as they are able to take their computer home they can watch them. They can download them while they are at school so Internet is not an issue. If they don't have a computer at home, they can come to school at 7:30 a.m. or stay during lunch or after-school to watch it," McComas said.

McComas says that the best thing about using the flipped classroom method is seeing the growth in her students.

"I have heard lots of positive parents feedback. I have had several parents write me that I hadn't heard from all year just to say this has been great for my kid," McComas said. "They are becoming leaders in the classroom. I do a lot of group work and kids that I would have never expected are now the group leaders. They take on that responsibility because they have so much more confidence in their math ability. They are learning it and not just trying to memorize it and then forget it. That is the best thing."