Blended Learning: The New Normal for Math at Frisch

November 6, 2014

The math department at Frisch is using technology in exciting and educationally progressive ways.  From real-time assessments to flipped classrooms, our students are being taught using various modes and the feedback and results have been wonderful.

Digital Storytelling: Math Style

In my and Mrs. Elissa Katz’s 12th grade Precalc classes, students have started creating short videos on various self-selected topics listed on a google spreadsheet  The videos created will eventually become part of a video library future Frisch students who take Precalc can utilize.  The students are graded based on a rubric provided by the teachers beforehand and the grade on the video correlates to a test grade.

Here is an excellent video by Frisch student Debra Paul ‘15 on solving for the roots of a quartic equation when given one root.

Students appreciate the opportunity for an alternative assessment and are honored to be part of the first of many future video libraries of Frisch math classes.

Feedback in Real-Time

In several of the 11th grade Algebra 2 courses, students were given a review sheet with a QR code for this past week’s test.  After completing the problems on the sheet, students submitted their answers via the QR code and got immediate feedback of their grade on this mock assessment. The students’ scores on the review sheet were also emailed to the teachers who gave a participation grade which will then count towards the students’ average.

These juniors, many of whom have started studying for the SAT or ACT, have grown accustomed to practice tests and were happy to see that model reflected in their math course.  The day of the exam, students commented that they felt relaxed walking into the test since they already had received quantitative proof confirming they knew the material.  Other students liked the fact that they had prior knowledge of what to work on before the actual test.  Often students don’t know the material as well as they think they do and the problem specific knowledge gained by the real-time assessment positively guided the rest of their review work

Flipping the Classroom

Additionally in a 10th grade honors algebra 2 course my students are starting to learn about piecewise functions from a “Show Me” video I created. Students were also given a worksheet modeled after the examples in the video to work on at home.  The next class was used for further developing the topic rather than introducing it.

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Self Check Quizzes

The ninth grade Geometry classes of Mrs. Katz, Mrs. Shira Teichman, Mrs. Debbie Stein and Mrs. Chanie Schlesinger have their own unique blended learning opportunities.  The textbook they use has a rich online component.  The students regularly are assigned online self-check quizzes which correlate exactly to the section and topic they are currently learning.  The immediate feedback gives these students and their teachers are better understanding of what exactly the students understand and what they need further review on. It directly affects the pace and depth of the instruction specific to each class of students.

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Differentiated Instruction

Through a grant from the Digital Jewish Network, the first blended learning platform used school wide at Frisch is now in its first year. About 200 students are enrolled in some way in a program created by Educaide.  Two senior classes are in a college preparatory program which reviews skills from Geometry to Algebra 2 based on a student’s performance on an initial diagnostic test.

 This differentiated coursework helps prepare the students for future math placement tests at their respective colleges and university.

 Several 10th grade classes are enrolled in the program as an extra avenue for test review.  The teachers create a custom problem set tailor to the topics on the upcoming test.  The program gives immediate feedback to both the student and the teacher about their performance on the problem sets. Lastly, some of our students with greater challenges in the basics of math are enrolled in skill building courses which review and solidify basic algebra skills concurrently while they learn Geometry.  It is truly differentiated education at its best.

Other 21st Century Tools

While as shown above there are many large scale blended learning initiatives taking place in the department, individual teachers are also branching out from the traditional reliance on just the textbook.  Teachers are using Desmos, Smart Notebook Math Tools, the Ti Emulator among many other apps and programs.

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Professional Development

With a strong emphasis on professional development particularly in the area of blended learning, the math department of Frisch bears little resemblance to class just a few years ago and is growing and advancing at a quick pace.  There is still present of course the warmth, support, and humor that has always been a hallmark of the Frisch math department.

 Looking forward to future posts about more of the exciting adventures in Frisch math classes!

-By Mrs. Sabrina Bernath
Chair, Math Department

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School, Math