Island students shine at Foxboro tech conference

The students and teacher traveled to Foxboro to present a conference exhibit, "Flipping Math in the Fifth Grade," about a method of using technology in teaching and learning. (From left) Maria Frangos, Maria Menenzes, Rammon Dos Santos, teacher Sue Miller, Stella Napior, and Gabby Carr at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. — Photo courtesy of Kim Heath

In a role reversal, a group of West Tisbury School fifth graders taught teachers a thing or two about math.

Students Maria Frangos, Maria Menenzes, Rammon Dos Santos, Stella Napior, and Gabby Carr and their teacher, Sue Miller, traveled to Foxboro on October 24 for the Annual Technology Conference, co-sponsored by Massachusetts Computer Using Educators (MassCUE) and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.).

The students led an exhibit titled “Flipping Math in the Fifth Grade” that showed teachers how technology can be used for homework and to enhance students’ classroom work.

In the “flipped learning” model, students watch lessons online from anywhere and do the typical homework part in school. In this case, Ms. Miller makes videos of the math skills she needs to teach her students, then posts them to Edmodo, a social networking site for students and teachers. The students watch these lessons via the Internet, after which they write topic summaries in their math journals, as well as any questions they have. By reading the journals the next day, Ms. Miller knows where to concentrate her teaching, whether it be remediation, extended practice, or challenges as an extension of the skills taught. In addition, she can post learning games and other resources to further enhance learning. By keeping lessons online all year, students can review them at any time, as well as before unit tests.

Potential benefits of flipped learning are that students can go at their own speed while watching lessons, rewinding where they need to, or watching a lesson more than once; students can watch the lessons at times that make sense for their after-school schedules, for instance, watching two lessons on a Monday, to avoid having to watch a lesson after soccer practice on Tuesday; and class time becomes more effective, as it is used on actual practice of the lesson, and Ms. Miller is able to talk with each child about each lesson.

Teacher feedback at the conference was overwhelmingly positive, and some even suggested that the student presentation outshone the keynote speaker. To see the exhibit, go to