CLEAR FORK VALLEY — A new way of teaching has put a smile on the face of a person who did much of his “book learning” in a way familiar to most of us.
Dan Jones, who went to Clear Fork schools for his early education, teaches at The Richland School of Academic Arts in Mansfield.
There, he uses a technique named “Flipped Learning.”
He says it has made him have fun, again, at teaching.
And it is connecting with his students.
If you go into his area at school, you’ll see results of projects undertaken with his students.
Jones calls it his “museum.”
One student put together a set of tea cups, to represent the 13 colonies. This was after the student thought about the economy, the religion, government and climate at the time when the country was only 13 colonies. The tea pot, in this scenario, represented Great Britain because tea was poured out for the 13 colonies.
Another student made a lighthouse of three different sized containers, with the largest on the bottom, representing the legislative branch. In the middle is the judicial branch. At the top, the executive branch.
This structure, in the student’s mind, represents the entire country.
America shines freedom; and it shines it in different colors, according to the student.
Jones said he was getting tired of teaching, and expressed his feelings to his principal. The principal advised him to find a way to continue.
Jones found a site, which deals with “Flipped Learning.”
This type of teaching technique was developed by two people, who were concerned about absenteeism in classes.
They decided it would be a good idea to record lectures, so if kids missed something, the video would help them see something again.
Jones said so much of education prepares children to take tests.
Flipped learning makes it possible for kids to take home recorded lessons. Part of how they study is called “turn and talk,” where kids will talk to each other about what big ideas were presented, how those ideas connect with what the kids learned, and what questions the kids still have.
Jones said he is taking instruction and putting it “in the home space.”
The difference is that he is not standing in front of kids and “telling them what they need to know.”
This way of learning is “more enriching.” And it means his kids have higher test scores, he said.
The lessons are recorded on a video and the program makes it look as though Jones is looking through a screen, writing backwards.
Kids, looking at the video, can pause or rewind.
“How many times could you rewind” to better understand what your teacher was trying to say, Jones said with a laugh.
Jones has been “flipping” for six years. He said several other teachers in his school are learning this technique.
The Richland School of Academic Arts is “art based,” said Jones.
It is a charter school, and it has an a capella choir and theater productions. It occupies the space in Mansfield formerly used by Swallens, a retail store.
The school originally was in a space with 30,000 square feet. The new space, which the school bought, is 90,000 square feet.
This means the area could be configured with a theater, classrooms, and a cafeteria area. There is also a piano lab.
The “Flipped Learning” technique is used internationally. There are 60 countries which use it, in some form.
Jon Bergmann, the founder of “Flipped Learning,” asked Jones to be a Master Flip Educator. There are 20 of those worldwide.
Jones has written a book, which is about “Project Based Learning,” which he uses, combined with “Flipped Learning.”
The book is “Flipped 3.0: Project based learning. An insanely simple guide.”
Part of the reason Jones stands behind this way of learning is that it means he can “talk to every student every day. I know what their voice sounds like.”
He thinks his book is a “validation to students.”
Jones has a daughter, Gwyneth, who also attends The Richland School of Academic Arts. His wife, Gretchen, who formerly taught, takes care of another daughter, Beatrice, and a son, Oliver.