By Emily Thyrum
Penn Manor School District is flipping some elementary classroom experiences by reversing the order of education. Students at Pequea, Conestoga, and Letort elementary schools are part of a pilot program in conjunction with students from Millersville University to experiment with flipped classrooms.
Flipped classrooms swap the traditional order of education: students watch videos to learn a concept at home and complete practice activities in the classroom.
During the spring of 2013, Penn Manor will launch a pilot to test this new method of teaching. Two fourth-grade classrooms at Letort Elementary, two sixth-grade classes at Conestoga Elementary, and one sixth-grade class at Pequea Elementary will participate in the program.
As part of the pilot, Millersville University education majors will create 15-20 minute videos about language arts topics for elementary school students to watch at home. The next day, the students will work with the teacher to apply the knowledge from the videos.
According to Vickie Hallock, supervisor of elementary education for Penn Manor School District, the only costs to the school district will be finding a way to lend the needed technology to those students without access, but the method of this lending has not yet been finalized.
“This (is) all being taken into consideration for the project so that all students have the access they need and no student will be at a disadvantage,” said Hallock.
According to Hallock, the program could have several benefits for the students, including improved relationships between the elementary students and their teachers because of increased class time to work together, less confusion when completing the homework because activities will be completed in class and more class time to ask questions about concepts not understood through the viewing of a video.
Flipped classrooms originated from the Khan Academy, an online library of over thousands of videos that cover topics such as: math, sciences, humanities, and economics. The idea of flipped classrooms is relatively new, and according to Dr. Jane Bray, Dean of Education and Associate Provost at Millersville University, most research shows that “this method of teaching works best with elementary or middle school students.”
A parent information night will be held early in the springtime to inform the parents about the change in their children’s education.
If the pilot proves to be a success, flipped classrooms could expand throughout the elementary schools. There are no plans currently to introduce flipped classrooms at the high school.