Learn how different teaching models can help your child get ahead in school.

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Looping, Flipping and Globalizing Classrooms


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Decades ago, going “back to school” entailed fairly homogenous experiences. With few exceptions, kids boarded school buses in autumn to return to standard schools with standard classrooms that followed standard formats.

How things have changed.

Now parents can choose from home schools, magnet schools, charter schools, year-round schools, modified-traditional schools and more. The education scene has broadened and, today, many Triangle schools are experimenting with new teaching techniques to inspire and encourage students. Here are some of the new classroom models possibly coming to a school near you.

Flipping for Homework Help

It’s the word that sinks the hearts of students everywhere, killing Friday night plans and creating battles between parents and children over “just getting it done.” Homework. It isn’t always busy work, either. Students must extend learning outside the classroom to fully understand topics briefly touched on during their fast-paced school day. Homework can frustrate everyone, especially when kids have questions parents can’t answer.

Flipping is one solution to this tangle. A concept created in the early 2000s, flipped (sometimes called “inverted”) classrooms turn the equation around.

Students use materials prepared by the teacher or a third-party source (like free instructional videos from Kahn Academy at kahnacademy.org) to learn basic concepts on their own at home. Then, during class, they work out problems — previously considered homework — or have discussions with the teacher. Teachers act as tutors or guides in the classroom to ensure students have a solid understanding of the material.

“When students learn the basic facts on their own through a reading assignment or by watching a video, that frees up classroom time for you to really apply those concepts together,” explains Ken Nagel, a teacher at Apex High School who uses the flipped model to teach Advanced Placement Environmental Science. “If they come to class already familiar with basic facts that they’ve learned the night before, you can get much deeper into those concepts and students can get a much stronger comprehension of the material.”

Nagel says he doesn’t expect his students to spend any more time working at home than they otherwise would. “It’s just different work they’re doing,” he says.

Instead of sending students home with a worksheet based on concepts he covered in class, Nagel has them learn those basics at home and then fill out the worksheet while he — instead of a parent who may not know the subject well — is available to help.

Sarah Echols, a sixth-grade teacher at Davis Drive Middle School in Cary, says flipped classrooms give students ownership of their education.

“By creating instructional video lessons of my own and allowing students to preview them before they come to class, I’m allowing students to take ownership in their own education. Students can retain the information easily by taking their own notes, rewinding and rewatching the videos at their leisure,” she says. “Once students in my classroom watch the videos, we can begin to have more meaningful conversations about the current math topics in the classroom setting.”

Unfortunately, not every student can participate in flipped classrooms. For the format to work, students need access to a home computer at a minimum and, most often, Internet access. Students must also be motivated and responsible enough to do the “home” portion of the class before coming to school so they can fully participate, or else class time is wasted while the instructor attends to students who didn’t do their “flipped” homework.

But when everything works as it should, flipped classrooms can produce exciting results. Clintondale High School in Detroit flipped its classrooms and reported that while more than 50 percent of freshman failed English class prior to flipping, that number plummeted to 19 percent after. The school also reported that the freshman math class failure rate decreased from 44 percent to 13 percent under the flipped classroom model. Dare we say it? That’s something educators can really flip over!

Looping Comfort and Productivity

Every school year, teachers face a new group of students they don’t know and must figure out the best way to reach each child. That’s why when the new school year starts, many teachers spend the first couple of days conducting “getting to know you” exercises.

What if a teacher already knew that Jared only recently mastered his multiplication tables at the end of fourth grade, or that Kaitlin struggles when writing essays?

Looping makes it happen. Using the looping model, teachers simply pick up where the class left off the previous year because he or she stays with the same group of students for several years before “looping back” to start with a new class. This makes for a seamless start to the new school year.

“You really hit the ground running,” says Lisa Spalding, principal at Turner Creek Elementary School in Cary, which follows a year-round calendar. “You know what the kids’ interests are, what works best for them, and you don’t have that transition period of relationship-building each year. Teachers love doing it because of how close they get with those kids.”

It can be a comforting situation for everyone involved. When students walk through the door for second grade, they’ll see the same teacher who taught them first grade. That can give the classroom a family-like atmosphere, because kids are familiar with their peers and teacher. And the teacher, being familiar with each child’s strengths and weaknesses, doesn’t experience a long learning curve to determine how best to reach each child.

Looping may not be right for every child (or teacher). If a class has bad chemistry, several years of being together can create unpleasant experiences. Also, looping teachers need to be sure they’re up for teaching material for different ages and grades, and sometimes very young students have trouble transitioning to a new teacher after they leave their looped classroom.

But when looping works, it’s hard to find an unhappy customer. Each new school year, Spalding gives parents the opportunity to decline looping their child. “I’ve never had anyone opt out, though,” she says.

Globalizing Communities

Thirty years ago, kids hid under the covers past bedtime with a flashlight and book. Today’s kids hide smartphones when chatting or gaming with pals in different time zones. That might not be bad (if they aren’t breaking house rules) since today’s kids, more than ever before, are part of a shrinking world where tolerance and understanding of other cultures can be the difference between success and stagnation.

That’s where globalized classrooms come in. Generally, globalization refers to the growing interdependence and interconnection of the world’s communities. Global teachers use technology and international connections to bring the outside world into their classroom.

An elementary school class might explore Chinese food or connect with a classroom overseas via email. An American high school class might regularly interact with a German high school class via Skype to discuss current or historical events from different viewpoints. The goal of the global classroom is to widen students’ perspectives as they work their way through class materials, helping them understand information as it relates to a larger community.

“Teachers look to the standards to decide how to incorporate aspects of different cultures into their classes,” says Amy Rickard, principal at Morris Grove Elementary in Chapel Hill, which offers globalized classrooms and has international teachers on staff. One of those teachers, Amanda Woodroffe of England, has been teaching in the U.S. for several years.

“What’s really interesting is not only introducing the kids to different cultures, but also helping them understand they also have a culture,” she says. “By learning about other people, they’re also getting a better understanding of their own heritage and traditions, and why they do what they do here in America.”

Globalization helps increase students’ sensitivity to differences in values and cultures and offers an opportunity to think about their position in and view of the world. That can translate into expanded options as they head out into the brave, global world.

“One of the things we’ve seen as part of the program is the growing confidence the kids have about other cultures,” says

Morris Grove Elementary teacher Alison Livingston. “They can travel and interact with members of the international

community in a positive and respectful way. That’s something they’ll always be able to use in today’s world.”


Kathleen M. Reilly is a freelance writer and mom in the Triangle.

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Calendar

November 2017

Step back in time with a 19th-century costumed interpreter and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Registration encouraged online. Tickets available at the...

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Celebrate the wonderful world of exotic animals and reptiles. Enjoy live specimens, presentations, raffles, vendors and much more. Purchase tickets online.  

Cost: $12 ages 13 and older, $5 ages 5-12.

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds, Kerr Scott Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Kicks off the holiday season with local art, music, food, and family activities at various locations in Durham’s historic downtown district. Presented by the Durham Arts Council with support...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Downtown Durham
120 Morris St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
Contact Name: Susan Tierney
Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Celebrate the natural world and where favorite Thanksgiving foods come from. Make a craft. All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Search the preserve for hidden holiday-themed clues and learn about native wild turkeys. Make a turkey decoration. Ages 5 and older with parent. Register online. Choose course code...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Search for salamanders, owls and more. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in the District. This year’s event will take place the weekend of November 17th. Take the family to enjoy train rides, magical winter lights, live...

Cost: Free; $5 donation for sledding

Where:
Park West Village
3400 Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Telephone: 919-234-6710
Contact Name: Conner Dixon
Website »

More information

See ponies, hunters and jumpers compete in an event that benefits Duke Children's Hospital. Visit the website for hours and fees.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
4601 Trinity Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

Make crafts celebrating turkeys. All ages with adult. Meet at the Cardinal Shelter. Registration not required. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn what it was like to be a kid at the first Thanksgiving. Play games and make a food collage. Choose either the 10:30-noon and 2-3:30 p.m. session. Ages 7 and older. Register online.

Cost: $6/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

Explore the woods and shoreline for signs of nature and collect treasures to make a craft. Take a full water bottle, snack and a bag lunch. Ages 6-11. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. Advance...

Cost: $16/child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Jackie Trickel
Website »

More information

Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Listen for the sound of silver bells and climb aboard in your pajamas for a first-class journey on the Polar Express. Come early to meet Santa and enjoy kid-friendly activities and a traditional...

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Athletes improve their flexibility, balance, joint mobility, as well as body and breath awareness. Special attention will be paid to core strength and posture and its importance in performance and...

Cost: Call for fees

Where:
Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue, Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-345-5873
Contact Name: Jen Bluestone
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Celebrate what you're thankful for. Play a game and make a pine cone turkey craft. All ages with adult. Drop-in program. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Shop more than 20 local vendors offering amazing gifts this holiday season. Enjoy daily raffles with proceeds benefiting local animal rescue Paws in the City. Kids can enjoy crafts...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Crossroads
333 Crossroads Blvd
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Read the story by Karma Wilson and make a Thanksgiving-themed craft. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

See a contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovky's timeless music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$55

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See a contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovky's timeless music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$55

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Catch this comedy classic on the big screen—as the symphony plays the charming and delightful score by John Williams live. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Fit & Able Productions presents the Turkey Chase trail festival at Umstead Park. Take part in a 5K, 10K or 20K. After the race, enjoy fruit, brownies and other...

Cost: $25-$45

Where:
Umstead Park
8801 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Fit and Able Productions
Telephone: 919-673-4689
Contact Name: Travis
Website »

More information

Celebrate what you're thankful for. Play a game and make a pine cone turkey craft. All ages with adult. Drop-in program. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Shop more than 20 local vendors offering amazing gifts this holiday season. Enjoy daily raffles with proceeds benefiting local animal rescue Paws in the City. Kids can enjoy crafts...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Crossroads
333 Crossroads Blvd
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

The Raleigh Boychoir makes an appearance before its big Christmas concert.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a 30-minute tour to view the main power drive and milling machinery. Tickets available inside the park's visitor center. Online registration encouraged.

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore the historic nature of Leigh Farm Park with a friendly guide. Venture inside the historic farmhouse while being captivated by tales about life at Leigh Farm throughout the years.

Cost: Free

Where:
Leigh Farm Park
370 Leigh Farm Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 919-560-1116
Contact Name: Natalya Buckel
Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Catch this comedy classic on the big screen—as the symphony plays the charming and delightful score by John Williams live. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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