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Highland High School trying out ‘flipped’ classrooms

2/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

New methods in teaching are turning traditional models upside down, according to Highland High School Principal Dana Addis.

In a presentation to the district’s Board of Education at the meeting Feb. 11, Addis provided an introduction to “flipped” classrooms.

“What you used to do at home, you do that at school, and what you used to do at school, you now do that at home,” he explained.

Instead of listening to lectures and taking notes in class, students in flipped classrooms are doing those things at home using applications such as YouTube, Moodle and PowerPoint, he said.

Classroom time is then dedicated to the application of concepts, he added.

Addis said the flipped model allows students to work at their own pace.

“Once they master a concept, they can unlock the next,” he said.

The approach is action-oriented and geared toward mastery, he said.

Science teacher Chris Luker, whose classroom is fully flipped, will provide the board with a more in-depth presentation in May, according to Addis.

While Luker is somewhat of a local expert on flipped classrooms, two other teachers at the high school are also incorporating some “flipped” time into their lessons, he added.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into doing this model correctly,” said Addis.

Addis also acknowledged some students might not be immediately comfortable with the flipped model.

“Every kid is different,” added board member Diane Thomas. And while the model may be perfect for a classroom of 20 students, it might not work so well when there are 30, she added.

Her children have benefitted from time spent in flipped classrooms, she said.

“It forced them to be organized,” she added.

Thomas also asked about students who may not have access to the kind of technology needed to view the lessons at home, with Addis answering that it would be made available to them.

Superintendent Catherine Aukerman noted that the way people think about teaching — that teaching is talking — is shifting.

Ways of teaching that blend in and out of school learning are becoming more commonplace, she said.

Also, the idea that the only time children are learning is while they are at school is vanishing, she added.

Also at the meeting, the board approved two overnight trips for students.

The High School Speech and Debate Team will leave Feb. 28 and return March 2 from Youngstown, for a trip to the 2013 OHSSL (Ohio High School Speech League) State Final Tournament. This trip is paid for by the team and its participants, said Aukerman.

The High School Robotics Club also will travel to the University of Pittsburgh from March 14 to 16. The only cost to the district will be fuel for the school vans, she said.

The board also accepted donations to Sharon Elementary School, including $275 in classroom wish list items and $300 for library books from the school’s parent-teacher organization, as well as $100 for the library from the Sharon Women’s Club and $342 in art supplies and an art show from Artsonia.

Aukerman also noted several recent student accomplishments, including:

  • The high school concert band under the direction of Jamie Holcomb was selected to perform at the 2013 OMEA (Ohio Music Education Association) Tuning Up for Change Conference held Feb. 7-9 in Columbus. More than 130 CDs were submitted and evaluated in a blind audition format, and the band was among those selected, according to school officials.
    “What an honor that is,” said Aukerman. “It’s nice to know they are highly thought of.”
  • Highland Middle School students Larkin Cleland, Quade Mainzer, Collin McInnes, Hannah Webb and Chris Wright participated in the Medina County Spelling Bee Feb. 6, and Larkin, Collin, Hannah and Chris will advance to the Akron Beacon Journal Spelling Bee March 9 to compete against middle school students from Medina, Portage, Summit and Wayne counties.
  • High School senior Douglas Stuart Arbuckle was named a National Merit Finalist. The selection of some 8,300 Merit Scholarship winners from the group of 15,000 Finalists is now in progress, according to district officials.

Following other business, the board retired into executive session to discuss details relative to security arrangements and emergency response protocols, with no action taken.

The next regular school board meeting will be March 18 at 7 p.m. at the Highland High School Media Center, 4150 Ridge Road.

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