New math program ‘flips the classroom’

01/24/2013 11:00 AM |
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO  |  Our Lady of Mercy teacher Marianne Wachtel works at her classroom's Smartboard.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Our Lady of Mercy teacher Marianne Wachtel works at her classroom’s Smartboard.

When Our Lady of Mercy teacher Marianne Wachtel guides her students through the school’s new math program, she uses the latest technology. But these learning sessions aren’t taking place at the private school in Cutchogue.

Her third graders are watching a recording of the day’s math lesson on their computers after school. And instead of doing homework at home, they complete it in class under Ms. Wachtel’s guidance. This new method is called “flipping the classroom,” and Ms. Wachtel believes it’s the best way to teach students in a 21st-century learning environment.

“Most parents work and they unfortunately don’t have the time to do the flash cards,” she said. “Parents are struggling and have said to me ‘I wish I could come to your classroom.’ That’s when I came up with this idea.”

Parents want to help their children with homework, Ms. Wachtel said, but feel overwhelmed by the new math program that rolled out this year. It’s a combination of Go Math and Singapore Math programs.

Ms. Wachtel, who has taught at Our Lady of Mercy for three years, said she created the new teaching program over the summer while undergoing self-professional development and listening to parents’ concerns about being unable to help their children with their homework. She’s now in the process of selling her program to other teachers through the website TeachersPayTeachers.com.

Ms. Watchel records her lessons with her classroom’s Smartboard over the weekend. The lessons are then uploaded to a website called edmodo.com, which only her students and their parents have access to. After the students watch each lesson, they are given an “exit ticket,” which questions them about the lesson. “I can tell in three seconds if they understood the lesson,” she said.

Student completing 25 tickets will be Ms. Wachtel’s special guests on an upcoming lesson. When students are in the classroom, Ms. Wachtel goes right into helping them solve math problems because they already watched the day’s lesson the night before.

Ms. Wachtel said the reverse method shows her which of her students viewed the lesson and for how long. If her students are having difficulty at home, they can communicate with her right away online. In addition, children out of school on a vacation or due to an illness can keep up with their fellow classmates.

“There is no loss of time for them, especially as they can connect with me so easily,” she said.

The program is engaging, Ms. Wachtel said, because she uses student names in examples and helps teach students about the importance of finding reliable information on the Internet.

“One parent stopped by here one weekend and brought me coffee,” she said. “They’ve told me ‘I can’t thank you enough.’ If that doesn’t give you motivation to be here, then what does?”

Ms. Watchel said she attributes the program’s success to parents’ support and from school principal Lorraine Delgenio keeping an open mind.

“It has made a difference along this journey,” Ms. Wachtel said about the community’s support. “If I can help prepare students for the next level, then I’ve done my job.”

For more information about Flipping the Classroom, call (631) 734-5166.

jennifer@timesreview.com

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