Why I Will NEVER Flip This Algebraic Journey

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 6.25.22 AMI’m not in the classroom anymore, but I will always be a math teacher. I’m still planning to do adjunct teaching in the fall for our local junior college. Thus, I’m STILL a math teacher…ALWAYS.

I’m working on editing a video for mathagogy.com, which is a new site dedicated to highlighting teaching strategies from around the globe in 2 minutes or less…although very few are meeting the 2 minute rule!

My video is about how I use stories to help students think about linear equations and their world. I begin by talking about my “job” as a painter, web designer, lawn mower, baby sitter…etc. I honestly have no idea which word will come out…It just does.

I always give a starting value, a beginning total that I earn. I then continue with what I’m earning by the hour, week, month, day…again…whatever comes out with the story…does. The lesson continues through discussion about meanings…what each value means & why. We explore multiple representations as we connect meanings in various forms. We look at other relationships and decide if the same patterns apply. Students find relationships either online, in town or created themselves…to demonstrate their understanding while verbally connecting ideas. It’s our most critical moment of learning because it is one of many foundational topics in algebra 1.

The thing about a story is that the audience is important. When I teach, I love to look inside the souls of my students. Yes…their souls…their eyes are the windows to that. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to talk to them about math and understand whether they connect or not through the looks in their eyes.

The eyes tell all. I posted a link to a video about flipping the classroom the other day. Frank Noschese, whom I respect greatly responded…



I do agree that flipping the class may work in some cases, depending on more factors than I can post right now. However as I am configuring my own idea, I have to go back to the reason that I loved teaching math period…the human component of understanding.

I take pride in this skill that I have of understanding how to connect with my students and challenge them further. It’s a process that we do together. It’s a mathematical learning journey. In 5 minutes, I lead learning through connecting and we build and develop concepts together. We can’t do that if I am asking them to “watch a skill video” prior. Experiences lead to understanding and knowing what they are thinking is critical to my job as a teacher in helping my students to connect.

I need to see their eyes.

Comments 6

  1. This post really resonated with me Rafranz…I have done keynotes both virtually and obviously in person. I always feel uneasy about the virtual keynotes because I cannot read my audience and see where they are at. I am not a keynote speaker; I am a teacher that happens to speak. When you SEE people, you often have an idea of where they are at, and what they need. I am not against the notion of the flipclass, but seeing someone in front of you while you are speaking (yes, lecture is good sometimes) gives you something that you would not get over a video.

    Great thoughts 🙂

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      Thank you! I’m not against flipclass either. There are some lessons that I would encourage it with, if the technology is there. This one, much like an online class or virtual keynote is different. Thank you.

  2. Rather than flipping, in what you and I would consider a “normal” math class, I would suggest using a Problem Based approach. I love seeing the students working collaboratively toward a common goal of solving a problem over a few days. Allowing them to identify what skills they know how to do and what skills they are going to have to learn prior to solving the problem is incredibly insightful into their thinking skills. I, like you, love to watch students thinking and learning. It takes a special set of circumstances, in my opinion to successfully do a flipped classroom approach AND achieve deeper understanding. Nice post.

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      I actually did that in my class before we gave it a nice name…PBL. It was challenging and most teachers hated it because kids were not moving at their pace, which was sad. I think that flipclass works with the right circumstances as well. I’ve seen horrendously boring videos that I would not prescribe to my mortal enemy and teachers are sending them home…crazy talk!

      My campus next year will be 100% STEM and PBL. I will be bothering you constantly as you are THE expert. 🙂

  3. I liked your response to George Couros. Too many people consider flipping in a way that can be very dangerous and at times counterproductive to the lesson taught. Educators that flip need to ask themselves if that is THE best way they can reach their kids. I don’t think it should be- I am a flip classroom teacher. It should be, “I am a teacher that Flips when best.” I have done project based learning and inquiry based learning cycles as well as standard flip class because I have found these to engage my kids best in regards to the content I teach.
    Though I disagree with some of your post content, as I have used the flipped model and I have enjoyed it.- I agree with the motivation- What you believe engages your kids best.

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      Thank you so much for your insight. I am not against flipclass at all. For this lesson, I would not flip it only because so much of it is reliant on our holistic conversation and constant feedback. Every classroom decision that I make is done from the place of what is best for my kids and the intended outcome. I have flipped a few and you have motivated me to post the lesson as well as student activities from it! Thank you so much for your inspiration.

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