Students teaching teachers; how a flipped classroom activated culturally responsive teaching and learning

Guenther and Nacke learning how to make Tortillas from students

Nasrin Nawa | 

July 14, 2023

Through their summer school, a group of elementary school students at Schuyler Public Schools, in Colfax County, participated in Nebraska Extension’s Growing Healthy Habits classes and were shocked to discover that Beth Nacke and Hannah Guenther, their teachers, had never made homemade tortillas. Their conversation led to a discussion about food from different countries, which formed the basis of the cultural exchange. 

Guenther, a Food, Nutrition, and Health Extension Educator in Cuming County said she was "getting cheered on "for her tortilla skills" when learning from students. "I felt I learned more than they did. It was by far the most rewarding extension program I have done in Extension." 

Growing Together Nebraska, a SNAP-Ed funded donation garden project that increases food and nutrition security and promotes healthy food access for families and individuals who are food insecure, uses the Growing Healthy Habits curriculum for school-aged students, which includes hands-on activities and lessons focused on using the garden to teach about nutrition and increase physical activity. 

 Growing Healthy Habits is an elementary school gardening and nutrition education curriculum developed by the University of Maryland in 2010. This curriculum is used by Nebraska Extension professionals to encourage the consumption of more fruits and vegetables, especially those that are grown locally. This summer, Nacke and Guenther, Food, Nutrition, and Health Extension Educators, conducted this program in Colfax County. Due to the success with this year’s program, they would like to plan two weeks of classes next year. This year, it was one week, for four hours per day, for 17 students at Schuyler School.

During their time with Schuyler's 4th and 5th-grade students, both Guenther and Nacke had unique and interesting experiences. It was as if they sat in the students' chairs and the students became the teachers.

 "At the end of each lesson, we discussed the topics for the next day,” Nacke said. “Upon hearing about the [food] recipe on the third day, the kids were asking who would make the tortillas. Disbelief erupted when we told them we buy them from a store. They could not believe that grown-ups couldn't make tortillas, so they planned to teach us." 

As Guenther further explained, "When we started talking about tortillas, it spiraled into what the kids make at home. It was so much fun that the gloves came off. As an example, they asked if we made Possolle and even corrected us on how to pronounce it. My favorite part was when we got a good one, they were like, ‘Woooow, that's a good one!’"

 “It helped them appreciate each other more; they discovered that there are differences in what they make at home, but also some similarities," Nacke said. Putting the ball in the kids' court, Guenther thinks, "made them feel proud about talking about their food."

Growing Together Nebraska (GTN) is a SNAP-Ed-funded donation garden project that promotes healthy food access and increases food security for food-insecure individuals and families. The program engages Extension Master Gardeners, local community organizations, and volunteers to build and manage donation gardens so that people have access to affordable, healthy, and safe foods. Nebraska's efforts feed into a larger Growing Together multi-state (Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Wtoming and Wisconsin) SNAP-Ed collaborative project.

Click here to learn more about Growing Together Nebraska program.