The Flip Side of the Flipped Classroom

I am still undecided when it comes to the Flipped Classroom. As a math teacher, I can see the benefits of shifting the practice time to the the classroom. In an age of large class sizes and accountability, providing more individual practice with the teacher acting more as a coach or tutor can be helpful to struggling students, but what is lost in the learning process when you flip the learning to a video lesson?

By flipping the classroom, are we teaching students how to be critical thinkers and problem solvers? One of the beauties of mathematics is that it can be taught through collaboration and discovery. The Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice outline what students should be doing in the mathematics classroom. The Common Core expects students to make connections, construct arguments to support conjectures, and recognize patterns. Does direct instruction promote these practices? The Standards for Mathematical Practice can be found at The standards are centered around problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections. By flipping the classroom, we lose these standards in the learning process.

Sure, some of the Standards come into play as the students practice, but how can the teacher make connections to prior learning and promote the curiousity of his or her students when he or she is teaching through a video? How can a teacher draw his or her students into a mathematical discussion? How can he or she encourage the students to consider multiple methods of solving a problem?

My concern is that the discovery and rich mathematical discussion during the introduction of new concepts will be lost. If the future lies in the hands of our students, how can we expect them to be creative thinkers, when we are just providing them information through one-sided direct instruction?

Maybe, the answer is some type of hybrid flipped classroom that incorporates guided mathematical discovery within the videos. Maybe the videos can be used to introduce a real world problem that the students can discuss online. It would be great if a teacher could create some type of online forum that incorporates the video lessons, but also requires students to interact with the mathematics and discuss possible solutions with other students and the teacher.


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