Saint Lawrence Academy science teacher Rachel Iufer won 2014’s “Sharing Is Caring” Digital Innovation in Learning Award from Digital Promise and EdSurge, according to a recent news release from the school. The award aims to honor accomplishments in educational technology.
The “Sharing Is Caring” award specifically recognizes educators who share resources with peers and professional communities, contribute to a community of practice, and expand their personal learning networks.
For about two years, Iufer has been creating public domain education, which she posts on YouTube, and lesson plans that are free and available worldwide. “I had to get creative and collaborative,” she explains. “I worked with teachers, artists, and scientists to create inquiry lessons and videos. I help teachers find great resources and give them advice on what’s worked for me and other teachers.”
What really sets Iufer apart is an educational approach that’s called “flipping” which turns upside down the conventional model of classroom instruction and homework as practice. At home, students receive instruction in the material – using a variety of channels including videos, textbooks, and research. In the classroom under the teacher’s guidance, students collectively practice the material, apply it to solve problems, explore further, and discuss the greater meaning and implications of what they’ve learned
Iufer also participates in the Flipped Learning Network, a community of teachers who share methods and best practices for this method.
“Ms. Iufer brings the inquiry and innovation for exploring science that the Saint Lawrence learning community seeks out,” said Bridgit McGarry, principal of Saint Lawrence Academy and adjunct professor in the University of San Francisco Department of Education.
“The flipped class experience encourages our students to become independent learners by covering the expected content outside of the school day, and re-visiting the material independently as necessary. Building on this independent expectation, Ms. Iufer reinforces the concepts through interaction and application during class time.”
“By training teachers and providing them with quality curriculum and training, we can reach more students,” Iufer said in the release. “I’ve given my colleagues all of my teaching materials and work with them on a daily basis to help them be the best they can be.” Last April, Iufer taught a workshop at USF for K-12 teachers about flipping and using classroom time effectively with this approach.
Iufer worked for the Chico Unified School District before joining the Saint Lawrence faculty. She introduced the flipped classroom approach in Chico schools and trained teachers and administrators in the method. She also presented the whole-class inquiry method – where the class as a whole is presented with a problem to solve as a group, directing their own efforts, rather than the teachers.
Iufer has worked with teachers to incorporate whole-inquiry techniques into their classrooms.
Iufer received the Digital Innovation in Learning Award in a ceremony held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View in November. At the ceremony, each award winner also votes for a peer award in each category. And it was no surprise that Iufer won a second award, the Peer Sharing Is Caring award.