Innovative Learning Model Changes the Equation

Teachers are flipping classrooms (and perceptions) in Middle School math classes.
Most of us probably remember the traditional method of learning math in school: Listen to a lecture in the classroom and complete the homework later on your own. Some StC Middle School math teachers, however, have turned that model on its head. 

In seventh grade math, the classes are “flipped.” In class, students work at their own pace, collaborate with their peers and do their homework, while at home they watch short videos to prepare for the next day’s lesson. 

The flipped classroom is showing promising academic results. Many students who previously struggled in math find that working closely with their peers and doing work in class makes a big difference in their grades. “Being able to work together with a classmate in the room is so important,” said Middle School Mathematics Teacher Craig Chewning. 

Chewning was initially concerned that the collaborative approach would make it difficult to evaluate individual students’ learning, but he says that the switch has demonstrated high achievement in challenging assessments.

Students in a flipped classroom have more individual attention from the instructor. Boys who are able to can simply move ahead to the next step, allowing the teacher to spend time with those who need more one-on-one time attention. “It’s hard to argue against it when the teacher’s meeting with the student almost every day,” said Brian Zollinhofer, another Middle School math teacher.

The model also teaches students how to manage their time. Working from a “playbook,” boys map out their math learning schedule a month in advance. If students know that they have a busy day coming up in other classes or sports, they can plan accordingly.

Middle School Mathematics Teacher Christie Wilson believes the flipped classroom is particularly well-suited for boys. “It’s 100 percent meeting boys where they are,” she said. “It’s harder sometimes for boys to admit that there’s room for growth, so it removes the self-consciousness,” said Wilson.

Clark Barry '25 always considered himself a strong math student, but he believes the flipped classroom allows him to learn on a schedule he can control. “Now I can go as fast as I want,” he said. “It helps me pace myself.”

Parents like Ann Macaulay like that while the flipped classroom provides an opportunity for boys to move at their own pace, it also provides structure, a clear schedule and regimentation. “With the video, he can stop it, copy it down, get all the content,” she said. “As a parent, it’s been great for my son. It really lends itself to his learning style.”

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