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Podcast 7 - Flipped Learning and Singapore Maths

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by TES_Maths, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. TES_Maths

    TES_Maths Occasional commenter

    Hello everybody

    On Thursday 12th April I am interviewing two teachers, Brian Arnold and Colin Hegarty, for the TES maths podcast. Many of you may have seen their videos and resources on TES. Their profiles are here and here

    They have an interest in two particular areas of maths teaching:

    Flipped Learning ? made popular (rightly, or wrongly) by the Khan Academy, where students learn the basics of a topic at home by watching videos made by the teacher, and then lesson time is spent address misconceptions and developing higher level skills. Colin and Brian regularly use this model of teaching with their classes

    Singapore Maths ? specifically focussed on physical modelling for topics such as ratio and fractions

    Personally speaking, these are two areas of teaching that do not have a great deal of experience with, buy which I am fascinated to learn more about. If any of you have any questions for Colin and Brian, or any points to raise, please share them below.

    And just a reminder that you can listen to all previous episodes of the podcast (and subscribe via iTunes) by clicking this link

    Enjoy the rest of your Easter break

  2. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    Hope the interview is a great success.
    Your post raises a couple of issues.
    I find it incredibly odd that these two phrases have come in to use, 'flipped learning' and 'Singapore' maths.
    They have both been around for an age.
    The notion that children should arrive at class readied to learn, with some knowledge they have had to acquire beforehand is simply 'prep'. I'm sure other people my age remember doing this at school all the time.
    Interestingly, there is no evidence at all to support the efficacy of homework in its most common form - that is, where it is simply consolidation and practice. Yet, there is strong evidence that prep does have an impact on student outcomes. This is why public schools are so wedded to the idea of prep. Homework, as it is dished out by most schools, is negligible in its impact on performance.
    So, Khan et al are promoting a way of doing prep that uses video instruction, rather than student research. Does it have an impact?
    Well, no.
    Much effort has been put in to discovering if 'flipped' learning benefits students, and to date there is no evidence that it does. What makes the difference is a teacher critically analysing the resources they want their students to use as prep and then setting the appropriate tasks, then using these (and the teachers knowledge of them) to take the next lesson forward from the start.
    When teachers take a passive role, and hand over the responsibility for teaching to videos without critically analysing them, then there is a regressive impact.

    The other item, 'Singapore' maths just makes me laugh every time I hear that phrase. It's been around for a very long time and used by excellent teachers all over the world. You can go back to Stern's seminal 1949 work 'Children Discover Arithmetic' and the work around the use of cuisenaire rods to see this type of approach. Interestingly, popular in the UK for a long time and strongly present in the 1982 Cockroft Report.
    I'm always amazed how few secondary maths teachers are skilled at using these types of approaches nowadays. It amazes me to find maths departments that don't have cuisenaire rods, multilink cubes, shapes and solids, etc, etc...
    I wonder if the last ten years or so has actually deskilled many maths teachers, through the incessent inspection regime, NC levels (and fricking sub-levels!), the NS, etc.
  3. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    Possible questions for Brian and Colin...
    1. Do they accept the definitions of 'Singapore Math' and 'Flip Learning' / 'Flip Teaching' as they appear of Wikipedia, or do they mean something different by these terms?
    [I'm using Wikipedia as a basepoint because i) it's easily accessible to all, ii) it's the primary basis of my understanding of these terms]

    2. To what extent do they feel the use of 3D physical models (Cuisinierre rods etc.) can be replaced by virtual ICT-based objects using animations and visualisations (e.g. Flash and dynamic math softwares)? I ask this because I used to trying using more physical resources in classes (in two different 'standard' UK schools, and with different age-ranges and abilities) but all too often I found there to be insufficient resources to go round properly, or for one or two students to mess around with them (thus distracting many other students), or for the resources needing to be simultaneously used by another teacher who 'kept' them in their room.
    Nowaways I predominantly use *animated* visualisations that I either project in class or (better) allow the students to interact with individually when they're using ICT. [I also use a remote control mouse to allow selected students (who I feel would benefit) to directly interact with the projected whiteboard version, obviating the need for an IWB]. I find using ICT-base versions to be a great deal more manageable (always instantly, freely, available), less obviously 'playful' (and therefore distracting) for some students, and little, if any, less effective in terms of aiding their conceptual understanding. But that's only from quite limited experience.
    Does you know whether they've rigorously stuck to using true physical objects in Singapore, or have they embraced the use of virtual objects using ICT? [Not that they are necessarily 'right', but..]

  4. Colin_heg

    Colin_heg Administrator

    Hi Mark

    Thank you for your insightful comments.

    Firstly just a few comments in regard to the terminology used of "flipped learning" and "Singapore maths". To be honest, I am not overly concerned with the names we have for particular ideas or teaching strategies or techniques. I trust your experience that both these ideas have existed and been used with success in the past. As a new teacher, I am not so au fait with the terms used in the past and some of the excellent ideas are wrapped up in new terminology. However, it turns out some of these good ideas are being called something different now - but that doesn't trouble me - I am just glad to be thinking along the right lines of excellent strategies to help the kids I work with.

    With particular reference to "flipped learning" or "time-shifted teaching" I totally agree that effectively this strategy is a means to help students prep effectively for lessons. If the terms "flipped" or "time-shifted" imply that the job of the teaching is now done and handed totally over to the children I am happy to recall it "prep". I use this technique exactly as you say. I think of it as students being fully prepared for my lesson. I make the videos myself so do the "criticial analysis" you talk about. For me for elements of the course I want students to take notes for this is a far more effective means of doing this rather than in lesson time. That is not to say the teaching is done, or there is never need to address the class as a whole or that is the only techniques to be used in teaching. I find it allows me more time in class to circulate, speak with kids, getting them working on richer tasks and in groups and allows the class to get more work done.

    I also agree with your comments on homework. With giving students an opportunity to prepare for lesson using a video I may have made, homework as a purpose that students get - it allows them to be ready for the activities in the lesson. I find homework is far better when this is asked of kids. It allows you then to begin a lesson working with kids on their particular questions - their barriers to the learning - and allows others to get on if they are ready to.

    With regards to "Singapore maths", again I am positive that much of this practice is going on all over the country with great teachers and it probably is a rehash of something called differently. That said, it may well be the case that as you say some have been bogged down with levels etc whereas as it has appeared to me Singapore have not go so bogged down and continued and used these methods. This is the guise in which I have been introduced to these methods being a new teacher and again am not too concerned about its name.

    Whatever name we have for it I take this to mean strategy to involve

    - depth over coverage
    - not moving on until a child understands rather than spirical schemes of work that cover the same thing year after year
    - focus on number in depth and to great understanding before doing other topics like data etc

    The techniques I have read about (again may well be old techniques) are

    - introducing kids to ideas with physical models
    - then getting kids to model problems by drawing pictures (box-modelling)
    - moving toward abstract without need for manipulatives or pictures.

    Some of the work Dr Helen Drury and Bruno Reddy at ARK are doing is just in line with this with their Maths Mastery programmes.

    Now to me this just make perfect sense: depth over coverage and not moving on when there are gaps and modelling and moving towards abstract. If the Singaporeans invented this or not I'm not bothered and am sure they probably didn't as its just common sense but I know they follow this and have success with it. It's totally embedded in the teaching and learning of maths in their country but I would not say the same is true here although I'm sure it does go on - in that sense there may be something to learn from their methods.

    As you end, I hope to move away from focus on levels (and ridiculous sub levels which don't even exist) and the methods of using instructions videos and modelling techniques are just some of the techniques in the armory of a good teacher but by no mean all the techniques.
  5. Colin_heg

    Colin_heg Administrator

    Dear MMT,

    I n my response to Mark above I hope to have addressed to some extent what I mean by the terms "flipped learning" and "singapore maths".

    With regards to the use of 3D models vs virtual animations visualisations - I am not an expert but would say there is room for both and both have their power. The one thing with 3D models is the tangible factor. In my experience, there is something very powerful about the ability to touch, mould and build with hands. That said I see that in Mark's Beluga Maths he uses models and blocks in this wonderful app to great effect. The beauty of this for me though is the fact that the app is on iPad and students have the touch sensation of interaction with these models and manipulatives.

    This doesn't mean there isn't a place for animations. Some are wonderfully illustrative and more powerful than any textbook definition etc

    I would love to find out more about this but my hunch from my work with kids on iPads, using dynamic software like geogebra and desmos and beluga maths is that touch with hands over mouse pointing has a very powerful impact.
  6. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    Colin - do you work for ARK? If so, you're probably London based. And if so, do feel free to drop in for a chat if you are in the area. Our offices are at Chancery Lane
  7. DaveGale

    DaveGale Administrator

    Some questions I think people will want to know/think about:

    Flipped learning:
    What do you actually do with students who haven't done the prep?
    Have you found many students that can't access the videos (for whatever reason)?
    What sort of richer tasks does this free you up to do in class?
    What do parents think of it?
    I know Colin makes his own videos: Does he reuse them the following year or create new ones?
    Are the videos hosted on youtube or elsewhere?
    How long does it take to make a video?
    Are all the homeworks flipped or is there variety?
    Are there any students who don't seem to 'get on with' this style of homework?

    And the big one:
    Does it work? (ie is there any evidence that it works.)

  8. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    It looks like all my questions are summed up on your post. I have made videos in the past for several reasons. I have been uploading the videos on my forum and students can watch them there. Videos are indeed useful.
    First, students can rewind and forward the video at home and analyse the content.
    Second, if a video was made in the class, it may contain questions of other students and the answers. The student viewing the video may be having the same questions. Then, it's excellent.
    Third, it forces teachers to deliver a high quality lesson as it's being recorded. Hence, it forces the teacher to become better in a positive way.
    Launching such a project will need the backing of the school, the support of the parents and most importantly, students will need to learn how to work in such a system. Maybe, the preparation of the students should be monitored and graded in some way. Otherwise, I don't see the students becoming interested and responsible for their own learning. I have been running my forum for almost two years now and few students are online and interacting. Most of them will be found online just before tests or the exams. Most of the traffic is from outside the country.
  9. If someone asks me, "can students benefit from looking at maths videos at home", then I have to say undoubtedly, yes. I base this on the emails and comments I receive each day from my website, Facebook and Twitter accounts and my YouTube channel over the last 5 years.

    I will never advocate that it should be the soul resource out there but it can be used as a very powerful supplement. Carefully constructed videos can not only be used to introduce a topic before a lesson but allow the use of animations, they can ask students to pause a video and attempt a question and then show the worked solution when restarted. You cannot get this from the pages of a text book. Even if schools restrict YouTube then most students can view it on their smart phones or computers at home.

    I agree with Tandy though when he says

    Analysing the content of what we provide to students has obviously got to be done. When it comes to offering up an exercise from a text book I would like to think that we try the examples first rather than just saying do that exercise without any thought given. The same with videos. Reviews of videos these days are so easy to see (I am talking about the ones on YouTube) where students will write comments. They will tell you, often in no uncertain terms if it has helped or not and will say where their difficulties lie. We can surely start to gauge a video from such responses.
  10. Hi Craig

    I'm writing for the Flipped Institute and recently wrote about research undertaken by a Canadian teacher Graham Johnson @Math_Johnson who's undertaken research into student perceptions of the flipped class.

    Overall students were very positive about the flipped approach but they felt videos could be improved. They wanted better sound quality, a slower pace and a more interactive approach.

    I think a lot of educators would be interested to hear ideas and tips from Brian and Colin about how they can improve their videos and introduce greater interaction.

    The article with a link to Graham's research is here: http://flippedinstitute.org/blog/?p=386

    I look forward to the podcast.

  11. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    Can you tell me who researched about it and where are the results?

  12. arny85

    arny85 New commenter

    Hi Anna,

    One of the things I like to do in my videos to make them a bit more interactive is to incorporate a "have a go" part regularly during the videos. So after I have explained and given an demonstrated an example I put a similar question for the students to "have a go". Then I put the solution on the screen, students can mark it and move on to the next part.

  13. Thanks Brian, that's really interesting and I'll also pass on your idea to Graham Johnson who undertook the research into student attitudes to the flipped classroom. Btw do you have a twitter handle so I can follow you?
  14. arny85

    arny85 New commenter

    I do indeed. @mrarnoldsmaths
  15. TES_Maths

    TES_Maths Occasional commenter

    Hello everyone

    Just to let you know that after a considerable delay, the podcast is now live here

    I hope you like it

  16. I have been trialling the flipped classroom with my set 2 year 8. I have not done it exactly as you described but I have chosen Pythagoras and trig and I have created videos using educreations. The videos contain examples and then usually a few questions to try themselves. I don't give them the answers until I collect the homework in (which i mark and then give them feedback on ) but I have found that most of my students have found this type of homework very very useful as they like the fact they can watch the video again and a few pupils have said that it takes learning to a whole new level. I always provide an extension question that they can have a go at if they want to and some are so desperate to ask if it is correct at the start of a new lesson that I have to sometimes go through it with the whole group.

    I have not spent any class time going through these two topics but last week I gave them standard, challenge and super challenge questions and my students we answering functional GCSE questions on both topics. I do have a few pupils who don't do the homework (they don't do any homework for any lesson) but they stay at lunch and borrow my iPad and usually get it done then.

    I am very excited at the progression my pupils are making and how independent they are becoming as learners. I would love to try out your model of flipped learning and I will try this next week.

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