NORTH MANKATO — Ethan Anderson’s eighth-grade algebra class at Dakota Meadows Middle School begins with what most would consider to be homework.
After completing a preliminary quiz based on the lesson the kids learned at home on the Order of Operations, he determines which students will do which assignment in class. Students who got none or one problem wrong got one assignment. Students who got five or six correct out of eight got another assignment.
“You did OK, but you still need a little bit of practice on the Order of Operations,” Anderson said before picking up the third and final sheet. “If you got less than five, this one has some additional notes and some tips and tricks.”
Anderson isn’t the only teacher in Mankato Area Public Schools framing class periods around assignments rather than lessons. About 600 students in the district are trying out a newer teaching method called the flipped classroom model.
All eighth-grade Algebra 1 classes are utilizing the technique this year, said Tracy Brovold, online learning and technology integration specialist for the district. The district is one of many in the region trying out the model this year.
Basically, rather than students receiving lessons at school and going home to complete assignments, the teaching method is reversed. Students watch guided videos at home to learn new material and then teachers help them with the practical application of that material in the classroom.
The key to success is “formative assessment,” Brovold said, which means teachers first determine which students understood the material, which students need more practice, and which didn’t understand at all.
“Teachers differentiate the assignment and help the students accordingly,” she said.
Anderson said he walks around at the start of class to check students’ “guided notes,” which they are required to take while watching the videos. It’s a way to make sure the students have completed the lesson at home.