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13. Flip Thinking


The shift in education is a great opportunity for educators to experiment with low cost, high impact techniques like “flip thinking.”

The Telegraph published a piece by Daniel Pink about educator Karl Fisch, a 20-year veteran of Arapahoe High School, located south of Denver, Colorado. For the past 14 years, the one-time math teacher has been the school’s technology coordinator. A round of budget cuts forced him to take on extra duties. A few weeks before the article was published, he returned to the classroom to teach an algebra course to 9th and 10th graders. Instead of lecturing about polynomials and exponents during class time and then giving his young charges 30 problems to work on at home, Fisch flipped the sequence.

“He’s recorded his lectures on video and uploaded them to YouTube for his 28 students to watch at home,” Pink wrote, “Then, in class, he works with students as they solve problems and experiment with the concepts.”

The idea that students learn differently is not a new one, though accommodating those different learning styles has proven difficult when the solitary ability to master standardized tests is still the means by which a student, and educator, is ultimately judged. The necessity to master core concepts is the reason why such tests were invented, however, and why the system revolves around them. But as Flip Thinking demonstrates, educators are getting creative even when it comes to transmitting knowledge of core concepts.

George W. Hart, an interdisciplinary sculptor, scholar, mathematician, engineer, writer, computer scientist, and educator is known for his geometric sculptures. He is a pioneer in using computer technology for the creation of sculpture. After twenty years of planning, the math techno-artist is taking his passion for the form to the next level with a Museum of Mathematics that will open in New York City in the near future.

At a recent event at Science House centered on the Imagination Age and the intersection between science, art and creativity, Hart said his goal is to impart a sense of “how exciting math is,” to the general public, including young students. Math is commonly perceived as nothing more than the tedious adding up of columns of numbers, when in fact the concepts behind much of what students learn, particularly with regard to geometry, can be taught in a far more interactive, visual format, sparking interest among potential mathematicians and the public.

If you’re an educator, how are you bringing more creativity and interactive or visual immersion into the learning experience? What do you teach, and have you modified your approach through use of technology? At Science House, Ayesha Khanna of the Hybrid Reality Institute noted that it’s time to “move past the technology to a sense of self.” How can this be accomplished in the classroom?

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  1. Ryan says:

    As an educator I like to use games to introduce creative thinking and problem solving skills. I’ll start most of my classes with a quick word game. It tends to wake the students up for class and starts them off on a fun and positive note. Later on, when I’m helping students with particular problems, I can guide them by getting them to apply the skills they’ve learned in the games.

    (Click my name if you want to see examples of some of the games I use.)

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