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Category Archives: Math

Notability – Notetaking Features

Gah! This post took waaayyyy longer than I intended – recording videos is harder than I thought!

So, with that introduction, I hope you enjoy the overview of all Notability’s powerful features ūüôā So as not to overwhelm you, I broke up this post into five videos outlining Notability’s more advanced notebook tools:

  1. Handwriting – Demonstrates how to keep your handwritten notes tidy. And math teachers, pay special attention to the Zoom tool. Creating solutions sheets will take half the time with this as well as the ability to export them immediately to the web ūüėÄ
  2. Typing РGives a few good rules of thumb when typing your notes, keeping in mind to not use Notability like a word processing program.
  3. Web Clips –¬†Walks you through Notability’s web-browser so students can bookmark all their web-based activities in the same notebook they’re using to take lecture notes.
  4. Pages – Shows you how to organize and filter your notebook to find notes more easily.
  5. Recording – My favorite FAVORITE feature. Seriously, if you are a math student, it will change your life.

But first, below is a screenshot that points out (literally) the basic menu options, which are all very intuitive. (It also includes a photo of my dog because there was too much whitespace, and Notability lets you add media, so why not?)


Without further ado, please enjoy the latest additions to my YouTube channel!

How I flip my classroom

I recently wrote a post on the philosophy behind flipping the classroom, so this post is to explain exactly¬†how¬†I flip my class. Here’s as basic overview of what I do:

  • For homework, I give students a sheet with skeleton notes on that they are to fill in. The notes are on the next day’s material. (Link to an example of skeleton notes)
  • The students watch the video and fill in the corresponding notes at home or in a school computer lab. (Link to corresponding video) They literally just¬†write down what I say¬†even if they don’t understand how it works. You have to emphasize this, or they freak out!
  • The next day, we review the notes from the video and complete practice problems. We also discuss critical thinking problems as a class, I usually give an informal assessment to see how the students are doing, and, if there’s time, we also play a game!

Flipping Graphic

I make all my own video notes using¬†Educreations¬†on my school-issued iPad. Educreations is SUPER easy to use, and the videos are published on the Educreation’s website, so, given a hyperlink, students can view it on their desktop, tablet or phone through a regular internet browser. Educreations is a very basic application – you write on it as if it’s a whiteboard while it records your voice annotations (your face will not be seen, I promise!). You can also add images to your presentation through Dropbox. There are other, fancier video apps out there, but this is perfect for my needs. For those of you on Android, I do have a personal Android tablet, but I haven’t found a (free) comparable app yet. I’ll keep you posted though as I’m always looking! Hyperlinks to my videos and notes are organized in unit calendars on my classroom website, hosted by Google Sites.

When deciding which lessons you can flip:

  • DO¬†flip lessons that are rote or task-based. For example, solving a linear algebraic equation (like 2x + 1 = 5) involves two steps: adding or subtracting the constant to both sides and then dividing by x’s leading coefficient. This is a lesson broken down into two simple steps that a student can learn at home in a video.
  • DO NOT¬†flip lessons that teach critical thinking skills or require discussion to master. Basically, any question you would pose to a student that does not have a single, definitive answer does not work well in a flipped lesson.
A common concern I get is how do I trust that students watch the videos? I was also worried about that at first, but it hasn’t been a problem at all. I do check their note sheets for completion, but I’m always tempted to skip it (because who likes checking homework?). I happen to trust my students because, first of all, the homework is super easy, so there’s really no excuse; secondly, now I can ask any student about formulas they copied and what not, so I randomly call on people all the time. If they’re not prepared, it’s kind of¬†embarrassing, so that fixes that. (I know that sounds harsh, but I like the fact that there are a lot more easy questions to answer in class, so I get to hear from¬†all¬†my students and not just the eager ones.) After 3 semesters, I have only received¬†one¬†negative review on my flipped homework the first semester I implemented it, and have¬†only¬†received positive comments on our anonymous semester-end reviews since. Ultimately, the students truly appreciate the videos, so they watch them.

Phew! I think I’ve exhausted the subject of flipping for now, but feel free to leave a comment if you still have a question. Happy teaching!


Flipping the Classroom

I have been “flipping” my Algebra 2 classroom for the past year and a half, and it has been AMAZING for both me and my students. I frequently get asked many questions about how it works, and I hope to address all those questions in this post.

Flipped video screenshot

A screenshot from one of my video lectures on factoring.

Flipping the classroom means the students learn ¬†the lecture material at home instead of doing conventional homework. English, Social Studies, and other literature-based classes already practice this – students read the book at home and then come to class prepared to discuss their thoughts. Alternatively, math and science classes traditionally lecture on basic material in class and then send the students home with exercises to work on, often leaving students to do critical thinking questions completely by themselves if there wasn’t enough time to cover them in class. As you may have experienced, those questions tend to intimidate students who in turn either don’t complete, or worse, skip those questions and ask you to solve them the next day. Then you end up losing valuable class time now spent on reviewing homework, which puts you behind on your lecture.

What flipping does is reverse the traditional classroom process – students watch videos at home that replace your in-class lecture. Now, the class time you save on lecture is used for discussion, practice, and activities. Students now have more time in-class to spend on practice problems and critical thinking questions while you and their peers are available for help!

Makes total sense, right??? In fact, before flipping, I would try to accomplish the same thing by asking the students to read the next lesson’s examples in their math book before coming to class. For those of you who laughed out loud, you know that if you’ve ever tried to do this, there are only one or two kids who ever actually do that part of the homework. The key to flipping is definitely video. And before you decide whether or not you can actually implement this, here are a list of pros and cons to flipping.


  • Homework time is greatly reduced. The kids only have so much of an attention span for learning new math concepts, so the max video length I give is 10 minutes. (If you’d like to see an example video I produced, click here.) The additional homework I tend to give is re-doing problems we already solved in class, so they may have up to 30 minutes of regular homework total.
  • If you’re in a school where the kids are bogged down with homework, 10-minute videos for homework will make parents cry happy tears and hug you through them. Win-win-win!
  • The students aren’t expected to be experts on a concept after watching a video – they’re only expected to take notes, just as they would in class. They¬†will not be expected to master a concept until they do in-class practice. This makes homework less intimidating. It also makes homework easier to check for you because it’s just a note check!
  • Lecture is much shorter (woo!). I usually have a few questions on the video and then we start working on problems right away.
  • Flipped lectures work great for lessons that are rote or task-based with concepts that can be broken down into steps.
  • Students can rewatch videos to ¬†review for exams and quizzes (and they actually do!). This helps make sure that both the outgoing and shy students have the ability to get their questions answered.
  • There is much more time in class for activities and discussion on critical thinking problems. I feel that my students have a much deeper knowledge of math now because we simply have enough time to go deeper! Also, there is more time for games, which my students LOVE.
  • There is also much more time in class to get a pulse on how well the students actually understand the material. I tend to do a lot more informal assessments now and adjust my lessons accordingly.
  • There are already plenty of video lectures you can use online. Khan Academy is a popular resource, but a simple Google search will help you find alternatives if you don’t like a particular lesson on there.
  • As with doing anything new, this does take time to set up and get used to. But, I would say that of all the new teaching techniques I’ve tried, this takes the least amount of time to get set up if you use a pre-made video. If you’re nervous, try flipping your lessons in a short chapter at first, or even just a single unit review lecture.
  • If you have students that do not have internet access outside of class, you cannot implement this type of lesson.
  • Your students may like the way you lecture (or you may like the way you lecture) and dislike other lecturer’s videos. This means you may want to make your own, which, of course, takes time. I have found that this is totally worth it though, and now I’m reusing my videos from last year ¬† ūüôā
  • Teaching critical thinking skills in a short video is¬†impossible. Avoid making lecture videos on concepts that require lengthy discussion to master. It may take a bit to figure out what works in a flipped video and what doesn’t.

As a math teacher, I have found flipping to be an invaluable tool, and it has bled into some applicable lessons in my Physics and Computer Science classes. In a separate post, I will discuss exactly how I make my videos, collect homework, and conduct class time, but I hope this helps answer all your basic questions for now! If not, please leave a comment, and thanks for reading ¬† ūüôā


February 12, 2014 - 6:48 pm

How I flip my classroom » - […] 12,2014 How I flip my classroom I recently wrote a post on the philosophy behind flipping the classroom, so this post is to explain exactly¬†how¬†I flip my class. Here’s as basic overview of what I […]

March 5, 2014 - 6:06 am

An ode to my first educational app, Educreations » - […] is the tool I use to create my flipped classroom videos on the iPad, and I LOVE it. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s super easy to use, […]