Steven Walker, Maths Subject Advisor
Some of the benefits of flipped learning have been outlined by my colleague, Nicola, in her blog Flipped learning: an introduction.
In this blog I am going to explore some ideas and websites for use with your AS and A Level Maths students.
Flipped learning could be as simple as having students read the chapter introduction and answer the questions in the initial routine exercise before formally starting a new topic in class. This could be expanded to teachers providing links to reliable on-line videos and interactive exercises for fuller exemplification or enrichment.
Flipping the teacher’s role from lecturer to coach means that more classroom time could be spent on the later, more challenging questions where discussions between students and timely teacher input is valuable.
Some teachers feel that the use of technology expectation for AS and A Level mathematics is best covered through flipped learning activities using online “maths classroom” platforms due to limited IT access during lesson time. Activities that require the use of dynamic graphing software, spreadsheet, or simulations could be undertaken during “free periods” with presentations peer reviewed in class time.
For the student:
For the teacher:
Flipped learning in maths may be completely new to students so it’s important to let them know how to get support whilst completing their task, along with clear instructions and a set deadline. They may also benefit from a clear outline on when and how the information they have learned through the flipped learning activity will subsequently be used in class. This may help emphasise that the activity must be attempted by everyone to check their knowledge and understanding.
Students need to be directed to reliable sources of videos, podcasts and/or websites. Teachers will need to check the quality of any third party material, both for inappropriate material and to highlight to students where different conventions have been used.
Clear instructions for using any graphing technology may be needed: students will be quickly demotivated if the input technology creates a barrier to the maths. It is also important to check if any website needs a specific browser to be used for the “interactivity” to work.
As with traditional lessons, practitioners have reported that students work best with a set structure for their flipped learning activity, and many adopt the strategy of providing a pre-recorded demonstration followed by practice questions (textbook or worksheet) or further reading/watching to extend their knowledge.
One of the advantages of setting graphing investigations as flipped learning activities is that your students are free to continue until they achieve the objective of the task. However, there is a risk that students may spend too much of their time struggling on their own. They need to have a suggested time limit; they also need to know that this is just the groundwork and that they should bring any issues to the next lesson (or before). Conversely, they need to be confident that their independent effort is not negated by having to sit through explanations for those that struggled or did not bother to attempt the activities.
The benefits of flipped learning are best achieved when planning for the subsequent classroom time devoted to differentiated tasks to allow focus on individuals and small groups at the appropriate level.
Many of the websites and tools used for flipped learning by your colleagues across the curriculum may be problematic in maths due to the difficulty of inputting algebraic equations and the use of subject-specific symbols. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that students often find the input interface a barrier to studying maths, so time is needed to incorporate learning the system before delving too deeply into new topics.
More generic apps may be useful in A Level Maths to allow students to review “candidate style solutions” to exam questions to focus on avoiding common errors and misconceptions.
Quiz style programmes may be useful if the system allows images (graphs or equations) to be added to multiple choice options.
Graphing software such as Geogebra and Desmos provide classroom environments where students access an activity and the teacher can see the outcomes of each student individually. These all have a range of “lessons” and resources that have been shared by teachers, although you may want to edit units or spellings of material produced for US schools or adapt for your specific qualification and cohort of students.
The calculator manufacturers have emulators that allow use of computer based versions of their handheld calculators. This allows graphs and equations to be saved as documents to bring to class (and gets around forgetting to take the calculator home 😊).
Large data set investigations can be easily set up using Excel spreadsheets, or you might want to introduce more specialised statistical software.
Mechanics virtual experiments are useful to simulate kinematics and Newton’s Laws investigations.
Take a look at our delivery guides on Teach Cambridge for suggested websites and activities linked to content referenced in each section of the specification. For additional suggestions see my previous blogs, listed below, on studying maths at home.
Have you tried flipped learning in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_Maths. You can also sign up for monthly email updates to receive information about resources and support.
Steven originally studied engineering before completing a PGCE in secondary mathematics. He has taught secondary maths in England and overseas. Steven joined OCR in 2014 and has worked on the redevelopment of our Entry Level, GCSE (9-1), FSMQ and A Level Mathematics qualifications. He now focuses mainly on supporting OCR Level 3 qualifications at work whilst at home helping his daughter with her early introduction to mathematics in primary school.