Flipped Instruction in World Language Classrooms is a hot topic these days. It’s been on the Moretprs listserve a lot this month and was the main topic of discussion of #langchat two weeks ago.
Traditional Flipping–Flipped instruction is when the teacher provides material (usually videos) of new concepts and students watch/learn at their own pace at home. Back in class, students work on what was originally called “homework” and solve problems. The role of the teacher is reversed; more of a facilitator in-class and a traditional lecturer at home (via the video).
World Language Flipping–This makes sense (and may seem transformational) for the majority of language teachers who still insist on teaching their students the difference between ser and estar and drilling the rules for using the preterite. In their case, I guess it makes sense to teach the rules outside of class and then use the language during class time. This approach may also reduce the packets and worksheets commonly given as homework.
For me though, the concept of flip means you are still teaching or providing the same content but mainly changing the order. I teach for acquisition and knowing the rules unfortunately doesn’t lead to the ability to use the language. Students need to hear and read repetitive compelling comprehensible input (CI) in order to gain proficiency in the language. There is no need to flip the isolated grammar instruction. It does’t lead to kids that can spontaneously ask questions, tell stories, share opinions, and argue a point. I’d vote for flipping it out of curriculum all together.
The vast majority of WL Classrooms (that I have seen) that are “flipping” their lessons are merely providing grammar lessons of some sort for students to view at home. This type of instruction (flipped or not) gives the original concept of flipping a bad name just like poor use of technology does the same for technology integration.
Just like many pedagogical approaches, flipping has come to mean lots of things to different people in different content areas. I believe many teachers are having success at providing alternative learning experiences. I remember when our school adopted the IB POI. The concept of inquiry teaching was new to many teachers and IB got the credit for helping teachers move more toward inquiry. I think, perhaps, the flipped approach in WL will help teachers think about what learning activities do and don’t lead to language proficiency.
My first flip
When my students (learning Spanish) were in 2nd grade I wanted to create additional CI opportunities for them out-of-class. I knew packets and worksheets wouldn’t suffice. Much of our in-class time was dedicated to creating personal stories but I knew my students needed more repetitions and more practice with our language structures. Luckily, I was awarded a grant for iPods. Inspired by Juan Tejada, I started creating enhanced podcuentos**. These were little mini stories (cuentos) I created (often with students during recess) for students to view outside of class with the hopes of providing more engaging CI. Although the plan had been to use the videos out-of-class, they proved to be a stellar additional piece of in-class content. Because the videos were personal, funny and comprehensible, kids watched them over and over again–increasing their language proficiency without even knowing it.
**I realize the files on the link above don’t work. I just thought it was fun to find them on the web. Our site and presence in the iTunes store fell apart when mobile me went down. I’m inspired to find these files and get them posted to share.
What I flip today
- Output activities. Google voice. Screencasts. Voicethread.
- Tons more input activities. Sound Cloud versions of our class stories. Videos. Commercials. Raps. Songs. Telenovelas.
- Sharing successful language learning with parents.
- Differentiated content.
- Anything in English that is worth seeing/hearing/reading.
- Full-length movies related to culture.
- Creation of Digital Stories. Out-of-class is a good time to learn tools.
- 20% Google Passion Projects.
- Connecting with Native Speakers.
- Authentic interactions in the community (Safeway has a nice self-checkout in Spanish).
- Online chats via Edmodo or Today’s Meet.
Many of the “flipped” activities above can also take place in-class. Advantages are that I can help facilitate the activity, all students will experience it, and we can build on (as a class) these experiences.
Lastly, the idea of flipping is closely aligned with homework. I believe in purposeful homework but have drastically reduced the amount I give to HS students. I don’t plan to increase the volume of out-of-class work just because I’m calling it flipped. I do plan to be deliberate with both my in-class and out-of-class learning experiences, hoping to increase their proficiency.
I’d love to hear about your CI-based flipped lessons and/or resources.