A Benefit Of Flipped Classes

Last night, we had a massive storm system pass through Nashville, and it knocked out the power at my school. Initially, the administration planned on a 10:00 am opening with shortened blocks. By 9:30 the power was still not restored, so classes were cancelled for the entire day.

For me and my students, this was not a problem. I had uploaded screencasts covering content for all of my courses for the next two weeks. I simply emailed my students and told them to work on the problems that I had assigned for today, then watch the next screencast. They will come to school tomorrow ready to work on the scheduled assignment, as if we had never missed a day of school. I’ll answer any questions on the problems they worked on at home, but we should stay on track with the syllabus.

It is so easy to record a screencast now (www.screencast-o-matic.com), or create an asynchronous dialogue with your students (www.voicethread.com), there is no excuse for any class to fall behind a scheduled syllabus. Embrace the tools available, and be the most effective teacher you can be, even if classes are cancelled!


From an Ellipse To a Hyperbola (or, There and Back Again)

As my Precalculus students begin to explore conic sections, a related activity that is a lot of fun is to use the concept of locus to generate them. A locus is the set of all points satisfying some condition. For example, the locus of all points equidistant from a fixed point would be a circle. The locus of all points equidistant from a line and a point not on that line would be a parabola (but you already knew that if you had seen this earlier post!).

I used to use waxpaper folding to create repeated perpendicular bisectors that eventually resulted in conic sections. It was very tedious, but now Geometer’s Sketchpad can do it in seconds, as well as animate the “creases”.

Here’s the basic setup, if you want to do it for yourself:

The blue line is the perpendicular bisector of segment DE. Point E moves around the circle, while point D moves bidirectionally along segment BC. I had Sketchpad trace the blue line (as well as change its color based upon the length of segment DE). You can watch the results in the video below. By the way, Screencast-O-Matic has a new feature allowing the screencaster to add sound directly from your computer. I was in an ’80s mood, so I set this video to Jan Hammer’s song, Evan, from the Miami Vice soundtrack. It creates an ominous sense of menace as the ellipses transform themselves into hyperbolas.

(MT)^2 Presentation: What’s New In A Flipped Classroom

Whatever you do with technology, make sure it fits into your educational philosophy. In other words: determine your philosophy first, then find the tools to make it happen.

The above statement is fast becoming my motto. I thought it up as I was pulling together the notes for a presentation I gave this morning at the annual Middle TN Math Teachers Conference.

The first half was about the successes and difficulties I’ve had teaching in a reverse class setting. I demonstrated how easy it is to create a screencast using screencast-o-matic, and shared how much my students have liked them. We had a very good discussion on how students of different abilities might respond to a reverse classroom.

The second half of the session was devoted to some of my favorite teaching tools: namely, OneNote, Socrative, and FluidMath. I wrapped things up with some tips on how math teachers can utilize the web: get a Twitter account and use it to search math-related topics, use a newsreader like my.yahoo or iGoogle to gather the blog feeds of innovative teachers, or start writing your own blog!

I am more convinced than ever that the future of education is in individualized instruction for students. Every child is unique, and for us to expect that one teaching style and one pace will work for everyone does not make sense. I continue to pursue my goal of providing to each of my students the most appropriate learning experience for her needs.

If you would like to see all of my notes, I’ve converted them into a pdf file that you can download by clicking the link below:

2012 MTMT Presentation