While I have been doing the “traditional” flip since 2006, I am exploring ways to improve it. I am going to attempt to keep a record here of my journey, including sources of inspiration, any support research, and even some sample lessons. Dan Meyer and Ramsey Musallam are two educators who are are on bleeding edge of technology and pedagogy, yet from slightly different camps. Dan Meyer, the rock star of high school math teachers who is now finishing his doctorate at Stanford in Math Ed, has an amazingly active blog. His 3 Act math lessons, which are growing in number weekly, seem like the new standard in teaching math. Act 1 is the hook. Something to get them interested. Perhaps its a video of someone stacking a bunch of pennies in large pyramid, or maybe it is a video of someone filling a tank with water. The teacher then probes the students to find out if they have any questions they want resolved (e.g. how much money is the pyramid worth, or how long will it take to fill up the tank). The teacher can then probe a bit to get some buy in from the students. Ask students to give a maximum and a minimum: What is the most amount of money you think there is in this pyramid? What is the least? How much do you *think* is there? Even students who are timid with mathematical calculations have some sense of this. Act 2 is where the teacher gives the students the tools to solve the problem. However, unlike the text book, the teacher asks the students what they need to solve the problem. They might want to know the dimensions of the square base of the pyramid. They would want to know the flow rate of water being poured into the tank. Only then does the teacher furnish them with the tools. Act 3 is the resolution. Hopefully this has been figured out in class and students are wanting to know if they are correct.
Ramsey is a high school chemestry teacher who has been flipping his class for a number of years, but most recently has transformed a traditional flip (just placing the lectures you would have done in class online and having those done as homework, then working what would have been done at home during class) into a type of pedagogy where the simple word “flip” does not do it justice. His method, while certainly not new, comes in a nice package: Explore-Flip-Apply. So, rather than the students’ first exposure to the material coming outside of class as a full 20-30 minute video lecture (which is what I did), the teacher first has students explore some topic. They explore this topic without any new knowledge–only prior experience. Most, if not all, students should struggle with this part–this is a good thing. The teacher should not give away too much here. There is an intentional withholding of information.
My plan is to (somehow!) blend these two paradigms–Meyer’s 3 Act and Musallam’s Explore-Flip-Apply–into an algebra class here at MTSU. Meyer has stated that the 3-Act approach and the flipped approach are mutually exclusive. Perhaps with the hybridization of these two, I can make it work.
Intriguing idea. Makes me wonder, what part of the three-act will students do outside of class? I bet that, if you develop the right class culture, you could shift some of Act 2 — the details of the tools, the “reference” material, the direct instruction — out of class time. If not out of class time, at least out of everybody-all-listen-tio-me-right-now time.
Yes, my plan, for now, is to move much of Act 2 outside of class. I will be posting some materials for the 3-Act/EFA lessons soon. I am trying to get at least the firist unit (or two) done before our term beings (Aug 26). Some lessons may allow me to do them all in one day. We’ll see.