When I used to give 50 minute lectures in my traditional classroom, I struggled with keepingÂ my students attention for the entire time period. Just about every student would “check out” for a few minutes to stare at the clock or check their email on their phone. Even the students who were focused on the lecture had a hard time taking notes (diverting their attention) and listening to what I was saying. Have you ever looked at some of your student’s notes? It can be a very ugly mess. Many students have never really learned how to take notes. They blindly transcribe what is on the board as fast as they can and it often does not really sink in.

And even if they can keep up, the graphs they show are often missing key details like the correct location of a vertex on a quadratic graph. In my flipped classroom, I need to keep students focused on mathematics. I have been experimenting with worksheets that form an outline for their notes. An example of this is the worksheet below that I use in College Algebra when I am covering quadratic functions.

This worksheet contains the graphs of two quadratic functions. Several important points are shown on the graph and space is provided for the student to show the work to find the y-intercept, vertex, and x-intercepts. Small hints are provided to help point students in the correct direction.

In my class, students watch videos on this topic prior to coming to class. As soon as they get to class, I have them break into groups and work through the different sections of the worksheet. I circulate around the room. In each group, I try to point out examples of good work so that the other students in the group can emulate that work.

You could also use this worksheet as a note starter while you lecture. Since they do not need to make the graph, they can focus on the mathematics. I post the worksheet to my class blog so that the online students can use it as they watch videos. Online students often need a starting point for notes and this worksheet gives them that framework.

Once the worksheet has been posted online for a day or two, I’ll post a “solution” to the worksheet. All students can see the critical steps that I would show as I carried out the same process they carried out.

- Quadratic Functions Worksheet Solutions (PDF)

By involving the students actively to create these notes, I hope to encode the information into long-term memory better. And if nothing else, they end up with a good reference sheet that they can use later on when completing homework, quizzes, and projects.