Flipping 3rd Grade

Last week I had the privilege of visiting Cindy Gallagher’s third grade class at St. Celestine School in Elmwood Park, IL. Jeanine Rocchi, the building principal, met me in her office and told me how pleased she was with Cindy’s move to a flipped classroom.  I was then escorted to the room and walked into a place of active learning and engagement.  Her students greeted me and even made a poster for me.

The lesson I observed was a math lesson on finding volume.  The previous night the students had watched a 3 min video on how to find volume.  You can watch it here:  Then in class, Cindy spent a few minutes checking for understanding regarding volume and then gave them three tasks:

  • A Socrative Quiz on their iPads
  • A typical worksheet where students solve volume problems
  • A hands on activity where students found the volume of several rectangular objects in the room

Each student jumped in and started working on their tasks.  Since they already had background information they  were ready to get messy with their learning.  As I circulated in the room, I took some time to talk to many of the students.  I asked if they had watched the video and all of them said they had.  One boy told me that the topic was a bit “tricky” for him and he had to watch it twice.  I loved how this young man knows when he needs to hear something twice.

Another young man was not doing the tasks in the order that Mrs. Gallagher had presented and I asked him why. He told me he really like the Socrative quiz best so he wanted to save it for last.  He was taking more ownership of his learning.  He liked that he had some choice over the order in which he accomplished tasks.

Afterward, I chatted with Cindy and asked about her thoughts on the lesson and on flipped learning in particular.  She told me, “I could never go back.”  And, since she was only flipping math, she wanted to expand it more for next year.  So next year she is going to start flipping some grammar and vocabulary. She said she loves that her kids are getting so much more individual attention.

What strikes me about Cindy’s class, is how the simplicity of flipped class method has such deep implications for learning. Her class has been transformed and allows for greater differentiation, more engagement, and better student outcomes.

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