such a way that they are all engaged in
applying their learning to their chosen
Just as we wanted input from our
teachers when developing the PD for
the digital curriculum, the teachers
felt that they needed input from their
students. Requesting flexibility and
a curriculum design that continues
to grow and evolve made sense. This
feeling of empowerment and ownership, among students and teachers,
has contributed greatly to our success.
In that spirit, Joplin High School
history teacher Dustin Dixon has
found great success in the flipped
classroom environment this year.
He began with evening pretest tutoring sessions via Skype. More than
30 students now log in for tutoring,
compared to the one or two students
who would show up in person at
early-morning sessions. He has now
increased his evening Skype sessions
to include lectures and make-up work.
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“They were willing to ask questions
I don’t think they were so willing to
ask in front of their peers. They might
be embarrassed because they didn’t
know the answer to something,” Dix-
on explains. “I am also able to work
with them on make-up work, and
there is a whole bunch of flexibility
through that line of communication
that wouldn’t exist through the setting
of a normal classroom.”
As with any major transformation
in educational philosophies, we were
cognizant of the fact that academic
achievement would take a dip before
the district recognized any gains.
State testing results indicate that we
did experience a drop in academic
test scores, but data for discipline
and attendance shows improvements
compared to the previous school
year. Discipline has decreased 13%,
which points toward increased student
engagement, and attendance has im-
proved by just under 1%. This is espe-
cially relevant when considering that
disaster experts warned us of an in-
crease in discipline and behavior issues
as a result of the tornado devastation.
Additional assessments continue.
Every quarter (every nine weeks),
department personnel conduct common formative assessments, which
they present to the school’s PLCs. We
scrutinize the data to determine weaknesses and strengths in the educational process, resulting in decisions concerning re-teaching particular focus
areas or necessary shifts. For example,
teachers are using recorded video and
Skype to assist students in areas where
they need help or are falling behind.
We also use these PLC collaborative
assessment meetings to implement
necessary revisions of the common
formative assessments as they are
relevant to curriculum changes.
There is probably no better way
to sum up this past school year at
Joplin High School than to end
with this quote from graduating
senior Taylor Camden:
I admit that after May 22, 2011, I
thought my senior year had been
ruined. When I first heard that
I would be spending my long-
awaited senior year at the mall, I
was disappointed. I thought of all
the things I would be missing out
on and all the things I wouldn’t be
able to experience. No more se-
nior bench. No more senior meet-
ings in the auditorium. No more
senior section at pep rallies. No
chance to take a senior class pho-
to in the rose garden. No more
Joplin High School. I thought of
all the hardships I’d have to face
while learning how to adapt to
such a new learning environment.
The author would like to thank Angie Besendor-fer, assistant superintendent; Terri Hart, director
of curriculum, assessment, and instruction; and
Klista Lawyer-Reynolds, technology integration
coordinator, for their contributions to this article.
Traci House is director of technology for Joplin Schools in Missouri, USA. She has worked for the district for 18 years in various roles, including tech- nology specialist and director of data analysis. She has also
served as a K– 16 education specialist for IBM.