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Korean broadcasters film Warren students for documentary

Korean Broadcasting System filmmakers shoot Jon Bergmann, flipped class pioneer, interviewing Warren Township High School freshmen in the O'Plaine campus library Oct. 29.
Korean Broadcasting System filmmakers shoot Jon Bergmann, flipped class pioneer, interviewing Warren Township High School freshmen in the O'Plaine campus library Oct. 29.

"Chung ahk ma." That's Go Blue Devils in South Korean – well, it literally translates to Blue Devils Fighting, but close enough.

The translation was provided by Chong Lee, associate producer for Korean Broadcasting System, which is one of the top 10 international broadcasters on par with BBC, he said.

Lee and three fellow filmmakers filmed students at Warren Township High School Oct. 29-30 for a two-hour documentary about the world's leading innovative educational reforms, to be aired on KBS in January 2014. Other locations included schools in California, New York, Greece and India.

Warren Township High School was selected for the documentary after Jon Bergmann, internationally known teacher of the flipped classroom learning method, recommended the school to the filmmakers. Some Warren students have said the method is helping improve their grades.

Bergmann, Lake Forest resident, visited Warren in August to give a special training session for teachers. He said, "Warren has moved beyond Flipped Classroom 101. They have moved to the next level of mastery."

Flipped classrooms turn the traditional teaching method on its head – students watch lectures in online videos at home, and what is traditional homework problem-solving is done in class, leading to more active classrooms with less note-taking and more hands-on learning, said Bergmann. The former teacher now works full-time instructing schools on the method.

Bergmann said the level of interaction between teachers and students at Warren is what the flipped classroom method strives to achieve and results are showing in students' grades.

The four KBS filmmakers circled with cameras and equipment as Bergmann interviewed five Warren students in the library at the O'Plaine campus on Oct. 29. The students sat around a square table, microphone hovering above as they described how flipped learning has affected their grades.

Miasia Metcalf, freshman, said she was surprised when she heard broadcasters were coming all the way from South Korea. "Warren is just an ordinary high school in Gurnee," she said. The students were selected for the film by teachers.

When the camera was rolling, Metcalf said flipped learning has brought her math grade from a D to a B+. Another student, Lexus Mikilay, said her science grade went from a D to an A. Bergmann was floored. "What's different about a flipped classroom?" he asked.

Liam Thrawl, freshman, said "In a traditional classroom, everyone's learning at the same pace. But with the flipped classroom, I can watch the video lectures again and again. Before a test, I narrow down three videos I need help on. It refreshes my memory so I get better grades."

Lee, associate producer, said KBS' interest in the flipped classroom method developed as they researched the world's most innovative teaching methods. "We have a pilot program for flipped classrooms in Korea. There have been remarkable changes like these [Warren] students have said," he said.

"The U.S. is one step ahead of Korea. This is the testing ground, before other countries adapt their teaching," Lee said.

C.P. Jung, director for KBS for 19 years, said he read about flipped classrooms and thought it could have a great impact on Korea. "We've had experiments in [Korean] classrooms since September," he said.

Jung said the most important thing the filmmakers have learned from classrooms around the world is "If education is not changed, it will ruin the individual, societies and nations. [Flipped classrooms are] a step in the right direction, a bridge to the ultimate goal of education."

Bergmann and Aaron Sams developed the flipped classroom method while teaching in Colorado and co-wrote 'Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day' which has been translated into many languages, including Korean.

Chris Geocaris, vice principal at Warren's Almond Campus, said "Our students were excited to have camera crews coming in filming and snapping pictures. It's a very unexpected honor, and we're very flattered to have international recognition."

Lee said the flimmakers would get to have a little fun in Chicagoland: "We'll eat some pizza."

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