Not inverting math class (but using video anyhow)
The idea is – watch the lecture at home. Do problems, ask questions, in class.
I’ve been reading about the inverted classroom for several years. First a calc professor/blogger wrote about it a few times, and then used it repeatedly and continued discussing it, then I saw some chemistry people doing it. Then Khan Academy. And then it seemed to be everywhere.
I won’t do it. I don’t lecture at a camera. I develop the next piece of mathematics, with students participating in the development. My lessons vary – as I respond, without fear, to the questions and concerns that arise. From the students.
I am not teaching to a static camera. I am teaching TO and WITH a group of wriggly, curious teenagers. I answer your question now (unless it is if you can go to the bathroom, and try to pick a better moment to put up your hand), as long as you already asked the person next to you, and neither of you know. We interact. I do not invert.
But in calculus this year… Well, new course for me. And I decided that I don’t like video, but maybe I was being stodgy. Or silly. Or retro. Old-fashioned. So I decided to try.
For their summer assignment I included bonus points for watching and summarizing Khan Academy videos. I figured I’d throw them a few points, and get instant teen-aged feedback. Verdict: a few watched them, thought them dry, but ok for an example or two. I reviewed their notes, and wasn’t impressed – nor was I disappointed. I wouldn’t want to depend on Khan, but as an occasional support or tutorial, yeah, it’s ok. For the record, my kids mostly looked at trig or log stuff.
I told them to prepare for the Level 2 Math SAT II. Seems most of what I want them to know for calc would be there.
And then I had them watch (no choice) 4 longer videos. I asked them to wait until 1 – 2 weeks before school to watch them. And to watch only one per sitting. And to take good notes.
I chose from “Free Online Courseware” at MIT, a series of lectures by Herb Gross, entitled “Calculus Revisited.” I assigned the introduction, Analytic Geometry, Functions, and Inverse Functions. (And I made the completion of this simple assignment be worth tons of points, too many for any of them to contemplate not doing them.) At the worst, they would come in griping about 4 lost hours of their summer. And at the best, the pre-limits review could go faster. And my teenaged scholars would walk in the first day, with math already on their minds.
The quality of their notes was relatively high, but fell off when they hit inverses. They reported liking Gross, and his nerdy, quirkiness. Being engaged. I responded by making the pre-limits review fast. Probably too fast. But it helped that they had watched. The videos worked – not to the level of my most optimistic hopes, but there was definite positive impact.
I decided to incorporate video-watching, to some extent, in my course. (to be continued)