Flipping the Classroom

‘Flipping’ the Classroom: Math ‘On Demand’ Empowers West Students
Posted on 10/21/2019
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What happens when you “flip” a classroom? Lakota West math teacher Jenny Circello can attest to the benefits of this more personalized approach to learning that puts students in the driver’s seat. 


For starters, 100 percent of her students have passed the quizzes and tests they’ve taken so far this year - up from about 60 to 70 percent in previous years. And to think she’s getting those results in a class that traditionally struggles with math. 


“The great thing about personalized learning is that it works for all learners...because it’s personal,” Circello says. 


But the results go far deeper than just higher test passage rates.


“Our students are actually taking ownership of their learning,” said Scott Rooks, an intervention specialist at Lakota West who co-teaches with Circello to assist students with special needs. “They are responsible for staying on track. They know their weekly goals and it’s on them to say when they’re ready to take a test.” 


A flipped classroom, Circello explains, stands in stark contrast to the “traditional” lecture style she used to use with her students. As part of Lakota’s commitment to more personalized learning, it’s one of four models that all Lakota teachers are being encouraged to integrate into their classroom this school year.  


“It basically provides my math lessons ‘on demand’ for my students. It’s like Netflix for math,” she explains. “In a traditional classroom, you’d probably find a teacher at the board presenting a lecture and then assigning homework to do at home. Kids would take it home and bring it back the next day and you’d just rinse, lather and repeat this process every single day.”


But using the flipped model, Circello has transformed her 30-minute lectures into 5-10 minute videos that students can watch and re-watch during class until they understand the concept. The model gives her students the opportunity to pace their own learning. 


“It gives you more independence,” said Lakota West sophomore Cherish Stephens. ”Everybody’s not always going to be there to help you. Sometimes, you have to learn it on your own, so it does make sense to start that early.” 


Circello thinks back to the stares of boredom and confusion she’d see when looking at her students during a lecture. “Quite frankly, I was bored, too,” she added. Now, those are replaced with significantly more one-on-one interaction by both her and Rooks. “As an intervention specialist, I love it because I get 40 minutes, whereas before, I may have gotten 5 or 7 minutes at the end of class.”


Time that would normally be sucked up by lectures is now dedicated to relationship building, a critical piece to making personalized learning really work.  


“Because of the strong relationships I’ve made with my students, I believe they are more willing to go outside of their comfort zones and learn math in a way they’ve never learned it before.” 


Check out the Inside Lakota Learning Blog to learn more about the flipped classroom model from Innovation Specialist Caitlin Huxel and click on the video above to see Jenny Circello's classroom in action!