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‘Flipped classroom’ is gaining at ETHS

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In some math classes at Evanston Township High School, students are watching the lectures on their electronic devices at home and then discussing the material with teachers and classmates at school, a concept known as “flipped classrooms.”

Growing in popularity nationwide, the concept is just one of the ways that technology is making inroads into the traditional classroom experience at ETHS, according to David Chan, instructional technology specialist at the school.

He and his colleagues delivered a presentation Monday night to the District 202 School Board that updated them on ways in which the school is using technology to promote 21st Century skills in the classroom.

Particularly useful in math and science classes, complex material can be delivered in videos that students can replay time and again until they master the topic. That puts them in a better position, he maintains, to discuss the concepts in the classroom, where students can ask questions and hear comments from the teacher and fellow students.

Math teacher Sachin Jhunjhunwala has employed the flipped classroom strategy and finds that it gives the student autonomy and control of his or her learning and has increased the value of time spent in the classroom.

Another math teacher, Dale Leibforth, has 30 iPads he distributes to his students for use in his “paper free” classroom.

“What I’m trying to teach them,” he told the board, “is how to use the iPad as an educational tool and not just for entertainment.”

English teacher Mariana Romano extolled the virtues of Teacher Dashboard and Google Chromebook applications that enables her to maintain all of her students’ writing files on computer for immediate access.

She can grade their papers online to give them immediate feedback. Romano said she will often give her students a midnight deadline for turning in their homework.

“When I get up at 5 a.m. to grade papers, as I frequently do,” she said, “their document is there.”

Using Google Chromebook, Romano said she can track students’ progress on writing assignments, including their revisions, and she can add her comments electronically for them to see on whatever device they may happen to have.

Chan said that the iPads and computer applications are available to all teachers and their students, resulting in “an emphasis on creation, rather than consumption.”

At the conclusion of their presentation, Board President Gretchen Livingston said she would arrange a “technology tour” for board members so that they can see the technologies in action in the ETHS classrooms.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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