Making the flip: Jan Mays trains future educators using flipped instruction

math equationIn her 21st Century Technology in Mathematics class, Professor Jan Mays has transformed the way she teaches her education students by integrating flipped instruction into her curriculum. Flipped instruction rearranges the way new content is delivered to students. They are introduced to the new material before coming to class, leaving the time they have in class for the application of that material. 

Educating the future

 In the past, Mays said, “There was not enough time to have [the students] really learn technologies;” those technologies being ones these future teachers will use to instruct their students. In order for the students to reach a satisfactory level of comprehension, Mays wanted to “use class time to help them evaluate the technologies and brainstorm different ways they might use technology [in the classroom]” when they are teachers.

Since Mays is training future educators, the material in this course provides a basis from which these students can develop new methods of teaching math using technology. With countless ways to illustrate this material, Mays wondered, “How can I do this in a way that could give [the students] time to play with technologies, but still give them time to discuss it as teachers?”

All she needed was a flip.

Where to begin?

Mays began by evaluating her current knowledge of technology. She recognized that “teachers need to be up-to-date with what the technologies are and how [they] can transform them to teach math.” She took this lesson into her own hands.

Mays found using screencasts, or digital recordings of computer screen outputs, as the most beneficial way to illustrate her material. Using GeoGebra, a free interactive online software used for algebra, geometry, and calculus in application, Mays demonstrated how to create a web worksheet. View Mays’s screencast here.


Screencasts and scripts

Screencasts provided the perfect platform for Mays to build her instruction. “I’m one of those people who are very reflective; I tend to rehearse what I do in class. Doing the screencasts was like the rehearsal.”

In this rehearsal, Mays flipped her own thinking process and thought about what she wanted the students to get out of the lesson first. “When you’re doing it flipped, you have to put a little more thought into what you want to do so that when you’re in class, you know what you want to do.”

Mays mentioned that she usually types out a script from which she reads while recording her screencasts. She now includes her scripts alongside the videos to satisfy all different kinds of learners. She claimed that for some students, “watching the video is helpful,” and for others, “reading and doing it is helpful.” Both of these methods satisfy requirements for each kind of learner.

Feedback from her students provides evidence that this method is working. Mays claimed, “This is a group of teachers, so they tend to be very enthusiastic about something they were going to use.” They were very accepting of this concept, for this is just one more skill they will have under their belts when they enter the world of teaching. Mays said they were a “good audience for a first experience.”

A flip that fit

 Mays commented that this technology and method of instruction fits with her style of teaching and improves the time in class with her students. She found that “they are more ready to discuss [material] in class.”

When her students do get to class, they complete “write-ups” of their experiences after previously watching a screencast. “They talk about what they got out of [the video], and think about ways they can use it in a classroom setting for an education class.” This is just one way to structure the course so students are in application mode immediately.

Additionally, Mays uses quizzes at the end of her lessons or posts on Moodle to strengthen the direct comprehension of the material, and to check that the students completed their assignments.

Just try it

Mays had such a positive experience with her method of flipped instruction. After being introduced to this concept by the staff in the Teaching and Learning Technologies this summer,  she said, “I recommend taking the class. You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Sometimes the best way to discover something new is to start with a little trial and error. Mays recommended that you “try out multiple technologies that are different to find the one that fits your style best.”

Image from Flickr user feministjulie | Creative Commons BY-NC-ND

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