What is the Best Use of Our Class Time — Algebra II Version

As discussed in a previous post, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams have me thinking — which is a great thing! This post is a continuation of the discussion “What is the best use of your class time?” or “What part of the learning cycle do my students most need face-to-face time with me?“, as these questions apply to my flipped Algebra II class. Here are some thoughts:

Algebra II

I think the best use of our class time in Algebra II varies based on our position in a lesson cycle. We are following a 5E lesson model in our math classes, with great effectiveness.

Early in the lesson cycle (say during “Engage” and “Explore” activities), I believe our class time is best spent working through these activities (usually self-directed group work) and then discussing our findings/results/epiphanies. Some of the initial parts of these activities can be introduced with short instructional videos, opening up more class time to really analyze and synthesize the results of the exploration.

So far, the “Explain” piece has been effectively broken into “lecture” portions (delivered outside of class via short instructional videos — some examples here), followed by class time spent practicing these new skills. To specifically answer the question posed in the webinar, I think my class time during the “Explain” phase is best spent helping students fine-tune their skills via practice rather than direct content delivery.

During the “Elaborate” cycle, I think our class time is best spent on application of the material to new and engaging problems. This usually involves group work, projects, more challenging examples, modeling real-world applications, etc.. Thankfully, I have a wealth of these opportunities at my fingertips, thanks to great modeling applications in our textbook resources, Vernier’s Video Physics app, and Dan Meyer’s brilliance.

As per the “Evaluate” portion, this is currently broken into two different opportunities — “performance indicator” tasks where students apply, describe, and communicate their learning in an extended way (a great use of class time, in my opinion — see an example below), and the more traditional assessments (quizzes/tests). Currently, all tests and quizzes occur during class time under my careful watch — BUT, is this the best use of our class time? Do students most need face-to-face time with me for this part of the lesson cycle? I’m not sure… I would like to transfer this part out of my precious class time (since I don’t think they really need me for this)—but, how to do this in a way that still maintains the integrity of the assessment? This is something I am still thinking about… Please share your thoughts!

What do we do with all the extra class time?

This is the other question from Jon and Aaron’s webinar that really had me thinking. I think I’m on the right track here in Algebra II. Currently, we do a lot more applications, modeling, math projects, and reflective thinking (currently loving the use of PollEverywhere, as do my students!), than we were doing before. Also, I’m able to spend much more time with students who really need the help, which is a huge bonus. I also think that I will be able to easily incorporate great extension activities for students who are working through the content at a faster pace.

I am excited about the progress and possibilities for my flipped Algebra II class!

***

What do you think? In what part of the learning cycle do you think your students most need face-to-face time with you?

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