Flipped Classes Make Their PA Debut

Students in Mr. Blackhawk's orange period flipped geometry class work on homework during class time, and watch videos of the lectures at home.
Students in Mr. Blackhawk’s orange period flipped geometry class work on homework during class time, and watch videos of the lectures at home.

Flipped classes. The new idea to Providence Academy produces mixed opinions.

In a normal class, the students would take notes and listen to lectures and once they go home, they would complete an assignment. A flipped class switches the tasks: a student watches a video at home and, in math teacher Mr. Ben Blackhawk’s class, completes a five or ten point quiz afterwards. Then the student does “home”work the next day in class. (Click here for a link to one of Mr. Blackhawk’s videos.)

As of this school year, Mr. Blackhawk’s regular geometry classes are the only classes in the school to be flipped. He states it is a lot harder than running a nonflipped class because a flipped class requires a lot of preparation. Last summer, he started filming the lecture videos and today, he frequently visits the studio to continue recording. Sometimes, Mr. Blackhawk barely finishes making the quizzes in time for the students to take them. He says that students have complained because the quizzes have been put up as late as eight thirty at night when they are due the next day.

Mr. Blackhawk thinks a flipped class is beneficial to the majority of students. Because geometry is now a flipped class, they are a chapter ahead of where they would be if it was not a flipped class, resulting in more material being covered. During class, Mr. Blackhawk walks around answering the questions of students who need help.

“Those are the students who are most likely to come in after class to get help and it saves them time and it saves me time to get the questions answered in class,” he says.

How much it benefits the students, or whether it benefits the students at all, varies among them. Mr. Blackhawk easily notices the kids who do not watch the videos. Some kids like the flipped classes and others do not.

Megan Elizabeth White ’16 says, “I find it more productive to learn the lesson during class where I can take notes and ask questions.”

Rachel Mohrman ’16 says she dislikes the videos in particular.

How many other schools are adapting flipped classes? At the last math meet on November 4th, 2013, Mr. Blackhawk was surprised that six out of the seven coaches, including himself, had at least one flipped class. Five of those six coaches have all of their classes flipped.