Taking a Different Approach

Social studies teacher uses a “flipped classroom”

By Alissa Ihlenfeld, Current Staff

There are few traditional things about Dave Talma’s classroom.

Talma, a social studies teacher at West Bend East High School, utilizes a different way of teaching, employing terms like “flipped classroom” and “standards-based grading.” During this school year, he put these ideas into full practice, although he did experiment with the flipped classroom philosophy last school year.

Standards-based grading is the use of standards to measure what a student has learned.

Talma also includes the idea of the student “owning their learning.” This essentially means that the student is in control of what they learn by making the decision to read the textbook or watch extra videos (putting in extra time), even though it is not a requirement.

The idea of standards-based grading first appealed to Talma because of the idea of retakes, for which he allows unlimited amounts.

“If you get it the third time, (at least) you get it,” Talma said. “Things like homework completion, effort and attendance, how you work in groups (putting these items in as grades)—that’s missing the point of what you’re supposed to be learning in class. The focus is on what you’re learning.”

East principal Darci VanAdestine is in full favor of Talma’s ideas.

“What you learn in your class should be connected to the curriculum, not behavior,” VanAdestine said. “It’s really students owning their learning more.”

“You know what you understand and what you don’t understand.”
– Dave Talma, East social studies teacher

Talma also uses the philosophy of a flipped classroom. Essentially, this is the idea of inverting the learning process so that the students come to class with that day’s lesson already completed. Students usually watch a video or read the textbook before a discussion in class so they come prepared.

“I think it makes a lot of sense, coming to class with the lecture already done, so that you have an idea of what’s going on,” Talma said. “You know what you understand and what you don’t understand.”

East sophomore Kyra Price has very positive opinions about Talma’s classroom.

“I like the videos that we watch on our own and take notes on,” Price said. “It gives me a chance to immediately replay anything I missed and lets me learn on my own time.”

With the flipped classroom, Price feels that she has more control over what she learns. She also expressed contentment with standards-based grading.

“I like standards-based grading because it takes off some of the pressure on tests,” Price said. “It’s more about actually figuring out concepts and the information and not just getting the questions right.”

(Top photo: Dave Talma helps East sophomore Kyra Price with an assignment during his first period Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics class. Photo by Alissa Ihlenfeld, Current Staff.)

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