2017-05-03 / School News

A flipped classroom

Wayne Burke – 7th grade science
by Dianne Griffin


Students in Wayne Burke’s 7th grade science class experience “Karaoke Science” or a “flipped classroom. Shown, from left, are, front: Keyasha Coney and T.J. Wadley; back: Omarion Mitchell and Brittney Spell. 
(Photo contributed) Students in Wayne Burke’s 7th grade science class experience “Karaoke Science” or a “flipped classroom. Shown, from left, are, front: Keyasha Coney and T.J. Wadley; back: Omarion Mitchell and Brittney Spell. (Photo contributed) Mr. Wayne Burke, 6th grade Science Teacher at Jenkins County Middle School, is 25 years into his second career. He began his teaching career after retiring from military service. He became a sixth grade teacher in 1992 and is still going strong today. He has also been very active in working with technology since joining the faculty in Jenkins County. The first website for the Jenkins County School District was created by Mr. Burke and his students use his website, Kudzuacres, everyday as they work on their science units.

Some would describe his class as a Flipped Classroom environment, however, he refers to it as Karaoke Science because the students are constantly exposed to all of the science standards on a weekly basis.

Google classroom and apps are used for sharing expectations, assignments and resources, as well as Nearpod and YouTube.

Students create videos using the Explain Everything app to demonstrate their understanding of the content. "I like using the Explain Everything app; it allows me to explain what I've learned and I can create it my way," said Allen Bennett, a 6th grade student in Mr. Burke’s class. While visiting one class, I observed two students sharing their project with the class via Apple TV.

Science course units are set up by standards. They are very much student-centered with Mr. Burke monitoring, supporting, challenging, questioning, teaching within the groups and conferencing. One can hear lots of conversation within the groups and between the teacher and students in each group. Students were using appropriate content language in the conversations.

The units are all required, but student choice is allowed in the order of completion and accountability is evident. One group was working with Rocks and Minerals, while another was working with Climate and Weather and yet another with Plate Tectonics. A pretest and a post-test is completed by each student for each unit of study and each student delivers a presentation at the completion of a unit.

An interesting phenomena occurred in the groups; student experts worked with those who needed technology support, collaborative discussions of ideas, questions being asked by students to the teacher and to their group members. Different types of chairs were available for different types of work and collaboration. Mr. Burke uses different kinds of maps, mini-posters and objects, some student-made, to enrich the content.

Mr. Burke has been working on Karaoke Science for three years. He’s learned many new things himself. He acknowledged that there are challenges for the teacher who uses these strategies and this type of work with the content standards. He said “the teacher really has to know their content.” He said it is important to establish expectations and norms for learning to take place. He uses a variety of chants with hand and arm motions and short songs to gain the class’s attention to draw them back together as a whole class. In addition, he noted that the teacher needs to be able to handle students moving about and talking in order to be successful.

Two important advantages of his Karaoke Science program are that it is much easier and less expensive to have hands-on science materials for four or five students than for a full classroom. The other even more important advantage is the teacher/student interaction. As a teacher, if you are working with small groups every day, you can really get to know your students individually. You have a lot more opportunities to provide individual help to the students who need it. Differentiation just happens; it doesn’t have to be planned.

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