‘Flipping the Classroom’ topic of technology conference

David Broyles Staff Reporter

August 15, 2013

One focus of a two-day teaching technology conference at Meadowview Middle School, which began Wednesday, sounds like a new program on the Do It Yourself network.

The concept is called “Flipping Your Classroom” and it’s about intellectual real estate in students’ minds. About 100 high school and middle school teachers participated in the conference’s first day with today dedicated to K-5 teachers.

“It’s (the conference) about using technology for teaching and learning,” said Surry County Schools Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Jill Reinhardt. She explained flipping, unlike traditional teaching (lecture and lesson format) has teachers act like guides and mentors.

Reinhardt and Jennifer Scott , director of elementary curriculum and instruction, explained technology, such as a brief video, can be produced by teachers using Haiku (information management software) which supports, and explains the day’s lesson.

“The classroom lesson can be flipped to outside the classroom so students understand before they come back into the classroom,” said Scott. “Traditional homework is just practice on that day’s lesson and if a student doesn’t understand it they are copying their mistakes or not doing homework at all. What we can do with technology is focus on student engagement.”

Scott said the conference also will help teachers take advantage of software applications to manage data from student polling and discussions and quicker assessments of progress.

“Elementary teachers will have more choices,” said Reinhardt. “Our elementary teachers have iPads and we are trying to make teachers aware of applications which are consistent with state curriculum standards. One example of this could be using a Wii to collect information. If students needed to learn about subject-verb agreement, they could watch a resource before the class and understand it before class where they work on the concept.”

Technology has even fostered the creation of a virtual guide avatar, named M.C. Grammar. The two said Haiku’s built-in ability for teachers to share resources, such as lesson plans, will amount to personalized learning with students getting more opportunities. They said the flipping is more visual and allows more hands-on learning in the classroom which better serves students who do not learn as well from lectures.

“We believe you need to reach every learner at their level because not everyone learns at the same rate or in the same way,” said Scott. “We’re focusing on how teachers can use the tools they have at hand. Technology can make our lives easier.”

Sixth-grade teachers Brittany Guy, Ashley McCormack and six students led a discussion on a flipped classroom during the conference. Last year, the approach had been tried out at Meadowview Middle on a limited basis. Guy told her fellow teachers that while this was not a fix for all, it has allowed them to reach more children than before. Students on the panel were Callie Willard, Ashleigh Childress, Khloe Smith, Emily Edwards, Grace Martin and Noah Holder.

“Students are alone when they need help the most according to the traditional model (without parents to help),” said Guy. “It was a situation where there was one dispenser of knowledge making the impression you (students) know nothing and I know it all. Who would really want to take part in that?”

Guy said the effort is really about nurturing independent learners, student-created content and even as a refresher course for parents who want to help children with homework. She said teachers had worked with students who did not have internet to access videos and activities so they could still participate.

The student panel agreed it was “like learning what you’ll do tomorrow and you already know what you are going to do that day.”

Student Khloe Smith said the penalty for not doing homework was failing the quiz which meant “missing out on a lot of activities” in class. She said doing the work at home let you do more in class.

“I’ve had this idea in my head,” said sixth-grader Emily Edwards. “What happens if you’re sick? What can you do to catch up on homework? With this, we’ll be able to be in the classroom while sitting at home so it doesn’t pile up like it did on my brother.”

Reach David Broyles at or 719-1952.