FFMS 6th Grade Math Class Gets Flipped
Marianne Lowe's students love it

Completely silent. Completely engaged.

It takes an adjustment to walk into Marianne Lowe's sixth grade math class at First Flight Middle School. Her classroom is filled with students, and yet they're all involved with doing their own work.

They sit with headphones listening to and watching a video prepared by Lowe, each at his/her own pace, raising their hands when they have a question. Lowe occasionally leans in to encourage students to fast forward, "Because you don't need to watch every step," she says. "Check your work, and go back if you have a wrong answer. If not, move on."

Lowe tutors the students when they become stuck, rather than imparting the initial lesson in person.  This allows students to work at their own pace. A student works until he/she encounters a problem, or doesn't understand a concept. Then Lowe can step in. It's a beautiful way to differentiate instruction.

On this day, her honors class has checked out one of the school's two carts of chromebooks. FFMS also has two carts of laptops. That will increase as the high school removes its media center and carts and transitions them to the middle school - another perk of the high schools' going one-to-one.

Some classrooms need movement and noise to demonstrate that kids are engaged. That's not necessarily true for Lowe's class. They watch and listen to Lowe's recorded lesson - where she works each problem, step by step.

Flipped classrooms free class time for hands-on work. Students learn by doing and asking questions. Students can also help each other, a process that benefits both the advanced and less advanced learners. ​​​

This is relatively new for Lowe's classes. Students are responding positively to her version of a flipped classroom.

JC Yelland was recently absent. "Flipping the classroom is useful to me because when I miss school I have a chance to learn while I was in bed sick.  It makes me less stressed out returning to school with all of the make-up work.

Jaden Howard agrees. "I like flipped instruction because I think it is pretty creative.  I think you learn better because you are working at your own pace and there are no distractions. The pace is good too because you can pause the video when you need to.  You can also pause the video and then check yourself.  You are not distracted because you are wearing your ear buds.  I really support the idea and I would like to do it more."

Lowe said that she started recording bits of lessons on her iphone, but with file size issues and time limitations it really wasn't meeting her needs. Her husband, Christian, a math teacher at First Flight High School, found the program she's using. Debut Video Capture records the computer screen and her voice. He uses it in his classes at FFHS, too. It's not free, so the tech facilitator at FFMS, Landra Cartwright, bought it for her to try.

The videos are linked to her haiku page. "The best part of doing it this way is for kids that are absent," Lowe explains. She says her students aren't anxious if they've needed to miss a day or multiple days, as they can access the videos from home and be nearly or completely caught up when they return to school. "They're not missing anything at all."  It also comes in handy if she has to be out.  She recounts, "I came in that morning to record the lesson, and my sub ran them. It wasn't as good as if I'd been there, but we didn't lose a day."

Another big advantage, says Lowe is that "Since the instruction is self-paced, I feel like I'm no longer holding anybody back. That's what I really like about it.”

"It's still a work in progress."