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McKinney ISD "Flips" Traditional Math Instruction

Math classes take home lectures, do homework problems in class

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    NEWSLETTERS

    They're turning traditional learning on its side at McKinney Middle School, using a method pioneered by two teacher in Colorado. On Friday, the students were the teachers.

    Some McKinney classrooms are turning traditional learning upside-down.

    Some math classes at Dowell Middle School are using the "flipped" classroom method. Students complete the lecture portion at home and do "homework" at school.

    Students take home a video lesson that runs about 15 minutes to watch as homework. The students then return with a foundation of the lesson and are able to work on problems or an interactive project in the classroom.

    "They can fly through a lesson now, because they already have the background knowledge," said Kimberly Howard, who teaches seventh-grade math.

    Seventh-grader Gretchen Omholt agreed.

    "You can totally get the concept at home, then come to school and know it," she said.

    Howard and fellow Dowell teacher Trista Hennebry said they thought the flipped philosophy, which was pioneered by a group of Colorado educators, would be an efficient use of time and resources.

    The teachers said it gives the students a more active role in the learning process.

    "It's not about 'This is the way you're going to learn it because we said so,'" Hennebry said.

    At Dowell, a flipped math class recently split into groups for a project. One student talked and showed how to solve a math problem while the rest of the group recorded video on iPads and iPhones for a demonstration video.

    "You learn it from a different point of view," Omholt said.

    Howard said flipping also lets teachers narrow in on which students may need extra help, instead of leaving student to their own devices with homework.

    "Those kids who can't necessarily get through the homework at home, they may stop after they get to a challenging problem and give up," she said. "Now they have support."

    Hennebry and Howard said their program is still evolving. They communicate with other flipping educators through weekly Twitter chats and plan to attend a national conference in Chicago this summer.