Tag Archives: flipping

I’d FLIP tortillas in my classroom

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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.
  • Reading.
  • 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.


Flipping Cinco de Mayo

Image by Visit Lubbock

Our course work on Flipped Instruction this past week reminded me of a lesson  we just completed on Cinco de Mayo. It’s not directly related to the traditional concept of flipping your classroom but it got my thinking.

I typically don’t spend a lot of time on Cinco de Mayo, but it’s good to be sure my students don’t go on believing it’s Mexico’s Independence.

I planned to spend just one class period on the event.  So…

1-I gave the students an overview of why the holiday is important here in the USA and why (not so much) in México.

2-We learned a few new words they were going to need to access a reading on the topic.

3-Students then read about La Batalla de Puebla in teams of two or three.

4-Each student summarized the reading (in writing) in their own words.

5-I taught them about why and how to give an Elevator Pitch in case they came across an American who wasn’t familiar with the meaning of the holiday even after having attended a Cinco de Mayo party the night before.

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6-Students gave Elevator Pitches (in Elevators constructed by kids) as to the significance of Cinco de Mayo. They were awesome given the short amount of time I gave them to practice.

7-Lastly, we went outside and played a game of soccer against the French Class. My Spanish class played with 8 players and the French class with 12 to represent the approximate ratio of Mexican to French soldiers.

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Fortunately, not having to re-write history, my underdog Spanish class won the battle/match. ¡Bravo!

Sound good? Nope. I had two students ask me (en español at least) why the French had so many players. Oops…

My reflection- Of course I needed to have done a better job and checking for understanding along the way.  More importantly, I should have flipped the order of the instruction. I guarantee had we played the match first and kids saw and felt the difference in the two teams, there would have been understanding for all students. Plus, the reading and listening activities would have been more meaningful to my students with more background knowledge.  Why do we often wait util the end of a lesson for students to experience the most important aspect of the learning when we could have flipped the instruction (in our rooms) for higher levels of success?