Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Math Sucks Big Time!

I just went through another crummy afternoon during homework time. Things are getting tougher in school and the stress is building. What happens next... rage.

I’m thankful the windows weren’t smashed today, but we do have a bike that needs repair after my son took his anger out on the exterior of our home after I locked him out because he was threatening us.

The thing is, his house isn’t the problem.

His family isn’t the problem.

Nope, it’s his math class and I’m having a hard time fixing things.

About several weeks into school my son said, “I’m finally learning math!” He had an excellent teacher who was not only teaching my son well, but he was reaching out to him and his buddies who like Yugioh cards by letting them play in his room at lunch.

Then on Open House we got the bad news, this amazing teacher was being moved to an 8th grade class, leaving behind a sub for a little time, then a new teacher.

We thought we got through all the transitions, you know these are a killer for our kids, but then the new teacher made one more big change.

She started teaching a flipped math class. Have you heard of it?

Basically when the kids are introduced to a new math problem, they’re assigned several online math videos to watch at home, then after learning how to do the problem, they attempt to do 5 math problems as homework.

In class the next day, they have an opportunity to ask the teacher questions about this new type of problem. From there the teacher will walk the student through how to do it. After that, the class is assigned a large number of math problems to do in class.

Then the cycle repeats itself: watch video on your own, do problems, and come to class to ask questions and do more problems. At no time is the teacher teaching the students at the front of the class as they would typically do. Instead, all the learning happens during the homework time with the videos. Thus, a flipped class.

After the first test, almost all students failed, so they had the kids come back a week later to retake the test after school. My son still failed.

My son was getting As in math, now he’s getting Fs.

As you can imagine, this is leading to stress overload and complete meltdowns.

Because he does his math work in his study skills class, we’re having trouble getting him onto the computer to watch the videos before doing the problems. The class has a limited number of computers and they’re always being used by other students. My son has a hard time being proactive. At home he’s resistant to watching the videos since he’s already done the problems. When he does watch it, he’s annoyed by the online instructor who talks to them like they’re 2nd graders. So he may be tuning it out, or maybe he isn’t able to learn with this model. Either way, he isn’t getting it.

During class he doesn’t ask questions, which would be an opportunity to learn, because he doesn’t like to stand out, so instead he remains quiet, not learning a thing.

And today, that lead to a rage.

* * *

So have your kids had this type of flipped class and did they struggle with this teaching model?


  1. I completely understand the frustrations that you and your son are experiencing with the flipped class approach, but that approach is increasingly becoming the norm. I am currently in training to become a teacher and I have been conducting observations in a flipped classroom. However, the teacher is a veteran at it and will occasionally use more traditional approaches if he feels it is necessary. However, he warned me that it takes years for teachers to become adept at this approach and it sounds as if your son's teacher is new to it, and unfortunately the students are paying the price.

    1. Yikes! What if this type of learning doesn't work for everyone? It seems like a good plan for self starters that stay on task and work proactively, but what about the other kids?

  2. I've heard of it, but only in theory, not seen it in practice. It does seem like the implementation in this case is very bad. In theory, doing the problems before you know how to do them should generate the questions asked in class. However, I think even many nuerotypical kids have a great deal of difficulty working problems they don't know how to do. It takes a very mature mindset to work through this kind of thing. (something that middle schoolers don't tend to have.) Have you set up a meeting with the teacher? The times that I've heard of flipped classes working is where the lecture part is done online for homework and the actual working of problems is done in the classroom.
    I sure hope you can get this worked out so it is not so frustrating for your son...

    1. Thanks Heather. We met with the math teacher today. We found ways to make things go easier, I’m hoping it's successful. One thing we are doing is having the Study Skills teacher teach him the problems everyday one-on-one. No more watching the videos. Then in class, he'll be doing half of the problems so when they correct them by breaking them down, he isn't so overwhelmed and can learn something during this process. Wish us luck!

  3. Hi! I'm new to your blog, having found it through another blog. My oldest has bipolar disorder (she's 11) and i can relate to SO much of what you have to say! She's started doing these flipped assignments in class too. So far for her they've been fairly helpful - she tends to yell at us a lot when we're trying to help her get through math and yelling at the computer isn't so effective, so that part has saved our sanity. :) her teacher seems to be working through it really well, so i wonder if it really boils down to how the teachers handle doing these assignments? it seems like it could be really good or really bad. Good luck! :)

  4. Hi Katie! I’m glad you found my blog. It's encouraging to hear that the flipped class is a success for you, that's awesome!