Introduction to Mastery Based Learning
In the traditional classroom, time is constant and understanding is variable from student to student. The Flipped Mastery model inverts the traditional relationship between time and understanding, letting understanding be the constant and time be variable. All of my students are held to the same high standards, but they master standards at a pace they feel comfortable with and are ready for. Initially, many of my students are confused about what a self-paced mastery-based class is all about, so my co-teacher and I find it helpful to introduce the concept to our students in a very strategic and explicit way at the beginning of each school year.
I use a Flipped Mastery model of instruction. In this model, students watch videos of lessons that I have recorded and posted on the class website, answer a set of practice problems to hone their skills, and take a Mastery Quiz when they feel ready to show they have mastered the material. I provide 1:1 coaching and support throughout the process. If students pass a quiz, they move onto the next lesson. If they fail, they are required to do another practice assignment before re-trying the quiz. There is no failing in my class. Either you know something or you’re still learning how to do that thing, but there’s no in-between.
Number of Students: ~22-28 students
Number of Adults: two teachers (co-teaching model)
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 110 minutes
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: IXL; SMART Notebook; Screencast-O-Matic; Weebly; PowerSchool; Kahoot!; Google Forms
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: SMARTboard; Wacom Tablet; Amplify Teacher Tablet (for teacher); Mac PowerBook (for teacher)
Key Features: flipped-mastery; competency-based; student agency; co-teaching
I would describe my classroom model as a tweak on a flex model of instruction. I start each class period by giving students a problem I want them to solve, such as “How would you use the gas laws to explain how popcorn pops?” Students then have the opportunity to create their own learning paths by accessing a variety of curated online and offline resources and activities. I determine if a student has achieved mastery on a given concept by evaluating the online and offline work products they have produced during class and by administering more traditional assessments. However, if a student fails an assessment, he or she can always go back and re-take it. My classroom is 1:1 with a mix of MacBooks and iPads, which have become the vehicle for my students to move at their own pace through difficult chemistry content.
Number of Students: ~ 36 students/period
Number of Adults: one teacher
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 120 minutes (M, T, Th, F); 45 minutes (W)
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: CK-12 BrainGenie; Google Apps for Education; eduCanon; Formative; YouTube; Screencast-O-Matic; Wikispaces; Weebly; Versal; Common Curriculum
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: MacBook computers (1:1); 2nd Generation iPads; SMARTboard; Surface Pro 3 (for teacher)
Key Features: competency-based; content in multiple formats; problem-based; gamification; student agency
To give students greater independence, there is an answer key for the practice problems of every lesson. I know what a lot of teachers are thinking at this point: what if the student just copy all their answers from the answer key? As an Algebra teacher told me when I asked them the same question before starting flipped mastery, they'll just fail the mastery quiz. It only takes a few correctional assignments for them to realize that the answer key is there to check answers, not copy them.