- Associated Press - Sunday, March 2, 2014

ELDERSBURG, Md. (AP) - Taylor Jones is enjoying the new way she’s learning math.

Jones, a freshman, is part of a conceptual algebra class at Liberty High School that’s functioning under a flipped classroom model. Students watch a lecture for homework and then work on practice problems and ask questions of their teacher the next day in class.

“I think it’s a lot easier,” she said.

Liberty High School has piloted the flipped classroom and OpenCourseWare independent study courses this school year as part of a larger transition to digital learning. Students in certain social studies, science and math classes throughout all grades and academic levels are currently taking part in the flipped classroom pilot.

Jared Wastler, assistant principal at Liberty High School, said the goal is to move the school away from a static educational environment by getting students and staff members more connected to technology.

“Last spring, we asked if we could pilot the flipped classroom model,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we did it in a way that we utilized county technology and resources to best benefit our students and our staff.”

Teachers who volunteered to be part of the pilot received training in the flipped classroom model last summer and started using the teaching method in at least one of their classes in the fall.

“All of them have continued,” he said. “Some have added additional classes.”

Callie Gillen, math teacher at Liberty, said her algebra class is made up of freshmen who have grown up in the technology age.

“So, we thought they might be receptive to this type of learning,” she said. “A lot of the kids like the fact that they can get an app on their phone and watch (the video).”

The site they visit, Edmodo, looks like a social networking site.

Math is a good subject to use a flipped classroom model for because students can memorize formulas and other knowledge at home, then come into class to practice problems and ask questions, Gillen said. Her conceptual algebra students will take the High School Assessment test this year.

“We’re able to spend a lot of time looking at HSA problems that focus on the concepts from the videos,” she said.

Gillen, a teacher in her fourth year, said she had some minor issues transitioning to a flipped classroom at first, but she will continue to use the model in at least some of her courses.

“The hardest part was really recording the videos,” she said. “I’ve gotten more comfortable with it.”

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