Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

The best way to reach each student? Private school Math teacher flips learning

CJ Westerberg, March 25, 2012 8:06 PM


Bullis School teacher, Stacey Roshan, pictured at far left in above photo

Editor's Note:  The Daily Riff discovered teacher Stacey Roshan's work through research about "reverse instruction" or "the flipped classroom" or the "backwards classroom" that was featured in The Daily Riff post's  "Teacher Doing the Flip to Help Students Become Learners", and "How the Flipped Classroom is Radically Transforming Learning".  
    We are delighted to have a guest post by Roshan of the Bullis School in Maryland talking about actual in-class implementation, the feedback by students, and  what parents think.
     Our posts on the flipped class - controversial, yes - over the last year have generated over 110,000 views from over 100 countries - thanks all.  This post originally appeared in January 2011 in The Daily Riff.
                                                           ---  C.J. Westerberg 

"Parents have told me that it feels almost like having a private tutor in the evenings for their child. They also feel it builds responsibility for the student and is great preparation for college."
-teacher Stacey Roshan, Bullis School

How I Use the "Backwards Classroom" Model to Engage my Students

 Video Below

by Stacey Roshan

How can I bring this lesson alive? How can I best reach each student in my class? How can I help my students achieve success while still having fun? These are the questions I ask myself when creating class plans.  And this is one of the most challenging aspects of teaching.

Particularly in the math classroom, students often have the preconceived notion of a boring, rigid learning environment where the teacher lectures and the students do a million practice problems until the skill is mastered. This year, I have put a large effort into integrating technology in effective ways to change this mentality.  

Particularly in AP Calculus, anxiety runs high. A rushed lesson with not enough time to answer questions and get a truly lively discussion started is far from an ideal learning environment. With the pace of the AP syllabus, easing this anxiety is a difficult task. By eliminating class lectures, class time can be spent in an entirely different way. And this has been my goal.

Using Camtasia Studio, I have the ability to run a "backwards classroom." By this, I mean that students watch lectures at home and then do the traditional homework in class. To prepare lectures, I initially create a PowerPoint based on examples from the textbook and include any relevant key definitions (students receive a hard copy of these Power Points (PPT), also). To prepare the video, I use a tablet PC and record my screen and voice using Camtasia Studio. After I am finished, I can go back and edit the videos to add cursor effects and zoom features. Finally, I produce and share these videos both to my class webpage and to iTunes. Students are able to watch the lectures using a laptop, iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. These kind of flips are used by forex trading brokers to read and teach the traders how trading works when flipped as it helps to learn the trade movement.

To check for homework completion, I simply have to make sure that students have a filled out PPT on their desk while doing the assigned classwork. I am able to walk around the room and help students 1-on-1, something I never would have had time to do with a traditional classroom format. Students really value this time and it helps alleviate anxiety. An added benefit is the ability for students to go back and watch difficult sections of lectures before a test. Many times, what made little to no sense the first time becomes quite clear after having done the assigned work. As a teacher, I look forward to students having these resources available before the AP exam.

Student Reaction

The response from my students has been overwhelmingly positive. I was anticipating that I would still have to do some lecturing in class, but that really has not been the case.  What my students tell me they like best is the ability to pause the video and rewind when confused and then to be able to re-watch sections before a test. In many classes, they are so busy jotting down notes that they are not able to actually comprehend what the lesson is about.

The video lectures provide students the ability to watch at their own pace.  Additionally, it allows for a lot of flexibility in their homework load on a particular evening. For example, a student who knows they have a big sporting event late in the week might double up on watching videos early in the week. Students also enjoy being able to watch a lecture with no interruption (such as questions or distractions from their peers). Students process material
at different rates, and the video lectures provide a differentiated learning experience
 that is customizable to the student.

And what do parents think?

Stacey.Roshan.Bullis.jpgParents are excited that class time is being so well spent. They are excited by the fact that they know I will have time to sit down and talk to their son/daughter in
a 1-on-1 environment every single day. The individualized attention that I can provide as a result of the video lectures is amazing.

Additionally, knowing that if their child misses a day of school because of illness he/she
will not have missed a lecture is a comforting feeling.
Parents have told me that it feels
almost like having a private tutor in the evenings for their child. They also feel it builds responsibility for the student and is great preparation for college.

Personally, the "backwards classroom" model has been an absolutely fantastic experience for my AP Calculus class and I would never go back to the traditional classroom format. Grades have been up, anxiety has been down, and I am a happier teacher.

"Grades have been up, anxiety has been down,
and I am a happier teacher."

I look forward to trying to implement the same idea with some of my non-AP classes, using videos to supplement teaching rather than replace in-class lecturing. Moving to the video lectures does place a lot of responsibility on the student, so it might not be the solution in every classroom.

But that's what teaching is all about - finding the most effective way to reach your particular set of students.

Video Below


Stacey Roshan's video lectures described above are available for free in iTunes.

Brief Bio: This is my fourth year teaching at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland. I did my undergraduate work at NYU, where I studied economics and my Masters at UVA, where I also studied economics. I did economic consulting work before making the switch to teaching.

Stacey Roshan's iTunes link
Check out Stacey Roshan's class webpage here   
Bullis School. Maryland website

This post was originally published by The Daily Riff January 24, 2011

  • Its been a best sources of ideas for achieving great learning from the private school and it shows some great learning programs that ar extremely useful for every individuals having their study on certain degree.

  • Jenny Shook

    I am currently using the flipped classroom but my students are not coming to class prepared to discuss the in-class work because they feel they do not have time to watch the lecture outside of class. (Sounds like the "I didn't have time to read the textbook" situation all over again.)

    How do you get them to watch the video outside of class and be prepared to do the work in class? My thought on my failure is that I have 200 students, and I do not collect the work in class, but have them take a "notebook quiz" online based on the work assigned in class. It seems that almost half of them are just doing everything outside of the class. Any recommendations?

  • Stacey Roshan

    Very thoughtful comment! Here are my thoughts:

    I think students actually have the same amount (if not less) homework this way. Plus, watching videos usually causes less anxiety than working through very difficult problems alone, so parents have not complained in the least. Reading a textbook (particularly a math textbook) is quite intimidating, so while I agree that the idea is the same, the process is not. Watching and hearing me work through the problem is just not the same as reading a solution in the textbook (where steps are often left out and the solution method is not always consistent with the one I use to solve problems in class). Regarding computer access, that is not an issue with my class, but certainly could be at other schools. The fact that I have the videos available as a podcast in iTunes is helpful because students can subscribe to the podcast so that videos are automatically downloaded to their computer, iPhone, or iPod Touch as episodes are added. This way, they have access to the videos regardless of internet access.

    -Stacey Roshan

  • Angela

    I have read several of the posts on flipped classrooms. I love the idea, but I am also wary of it as a new name for old tricks. We used to expect the students to read the textbook before coming to class. Then, when it became near to impossible to ensure students complete this outside of class, whether due to parental concerns about too much homework or students not being able to read it outside of the classroom due to reading levels, we moved that work into the classroom.

    How do you see this proving different than the textbook route? What do you do, when a student can't access the material before class (no Internet at home--I know there are other "free" internet resources, but playing devil's advocate)?

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