Chisholm High School Math Teacher Swaps Lecture With Homework, Sees Test Scores Improve

By KBJR News 1

October 12, 2012 Updated Oct 12, 2012 at 10:17 PM CDT

Chisholm, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - A Chisholm High School math teacher may have solved a problem. It doesn't have to do with math, but rather the way students learn it.

"I wanted them to enjoy math and part of that is taking away the frustration," said math teacher Don Lalonde.

After seeing so often that students would get frustrated while doing math problems at home, Lalonde decided to try a method called "flipped" teaching, in which the instructor records the day's lecture for the students to watch at home as homework, then spends the class period helping them as they do their math problems.

"It's a huge paradigm shift," said Lalonde of the method.

The method allows students to recieve individualized attention that they might not recieve in the traditional classroom.

"In traditional class I might get to three or four kids but I think I got to everybody in here and the kids who were struggling, I got to them more," said Lalonde.

The idea came to Lalonde after hearing of the method being used at other schools.

"A teacher in inner city Detroit and he really got my attention because he was having trouble with attendance and everybody seemed to have a cell phone or some way to get to the internet," said Lalonde.

Lalonde says that feedback from students and parents is mixed.

"When we first started doing algebra I had a lot of trouble, but then I could go back and just watch the video," said student Melissa Quirk.

Lalonde posts the videos on an online site called SchoolTube. He makes DVD copies for students who don't have online access.

"If you don't get the assignment you can just rewind it and watch the lesson again," said student Jake Giermann of why he likes the "flipped" method.

While Lalonde says he's seeing test scores improve, the best indicator of success might not be seen by a number in the grade book.

"I'm seeing enthusiasm. Kids are excited for the class," he said.

Lalonde is the first teacher in the school district to try the new teaching method.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.