Have you heard of the relatively new concept of flipped classrooms?
They are a break from the traditional instructional model, and they can be quite effective for students in the postmodern era. Even better, they are a great way to increase student talk time in your ESL class and take less time on activities that students can do at home. Here’s everything you need to get you started with a flipped classroom. You’ll be flipping out with how great it can be.
8 Things You Need to Know to Try out a Flipped Classroom Today
What Is a Flipped Classroom?
Flipped classroom are a contrast to traditional instructional frameworks. Tradition has the teacher presenting information to their students during class and then assigning homework that reviews and deepens the student’s understanding of that information at home. In a flipped classroom, it’s the opposite. Students watch instructional videos, listen to lectures, and use other media to learn information outside of class that will then be used the next day in class in activities that practice, deepen, and explore the concepts they learned outside of class. Basically, students get their instruction outside the classroom and then put it to use inside the classroom. It flips the traditional model on its head.
How Do You Set up a Flipped Classroom?
Anyone can use the flipped classroom model, including ESL teachers. In fact, it’s almost designed for language instruction. They key to a successful flipped classroom is getting ready long before the start of class. You will probably need to spend a lot of time upfront gathering your materials and collecting sources that you will have students use outside of the classroom. You’ll want lectures, instructional videos, online quizzes, etc. But setting up a flipped classroom is like your first year teaching: once you have your materials chosen and organized, you can use the same selections over each time you teach. For the second time through class and beyond you will only need to spend a little time checking to make sure your materials and links are still good.
How Does Instruction Work in a Flipped Classroom?
You don’t teach in class. Not really. Your students view the materials you assign and do the interactive tasks when they are not at school. This means they watch videos and use other interactive material. The more interactive the better. Then when they are in school, they can focus on using the language they have learned. You are there to facilitate the use and practice of what they learned at home.
How Do I Keep a Flipped Classroom Balanced?
Be careful not to assign too much out of class work for your students as they may have other commitments. This is even truer of adult students than young learners. Adults may have family, jobs, and other responsibilities out of the classroom. Be careful not to overload their schedule. Additionally, young learners often have limited access to the internet and other media. Keep this in mind when you assign tasks for outside class. You don’t want to give them more than then can complete outside of class.
If you pay attention to what your students say about the volume of work you assign, you can give more or less as needed. They will likely tell you if they have too much to do for homework, and then you can shift some of that work back into your class time. You can also consider a hybrid flipped model of instruction which gives students some lessons to learn outside of class but gives some lessons during class time as well.
Who Benefits from a Flipped Classroom?
A flipped classroom may be more upfront work for you, the teacher, but you aren’t the only person this type of instruction affects. Students get more talk time in class, and that improves their use of English and ultimate their ability to communicate.
Parents can also have more involvement in their children’s learning, if you are teaching young learners. Since students watch materials outside of class, parents can also watch along and know what their children are learning.
Where Does Instruction Happen?
That’s the fun of a flipped classroom. Students are viewing and interacting with instructional materials outside of class. That way you can spend your class time practicing and perfecting the skills taught in the videos during your class time. All those activities you never seem to have time for are now welcome within your classroom walls.
Your students can access their instruction from a coffee shop, library, or anywhere their phone lets them access the internet. It makes for a super flexible way to make education happen.
Why Should You Try a Flipped Classroom?
The flipped classroom model is especially useful for ESL teachers and students. Since our goal is to get our students talking (and spend less time talking ourselves) having students watch instructional portions outside of the classroom frees up time for more communicative activities during the school day.
It is also a big benefit for students in the postmodern world since their homework is media driven and interactive, and you can employ less traditional activities during class time.
And for teachers who feel there just isn’t enough time in class to get everything done (it’s not just me, right?) having students cover the instructional portion of a lesson outside of class frees you up to do other more communicative things in the time you have together.
How Do You Set up a Flipped Classroom?
If you have a website or a blog, you can post links to the materials your students will need there. You can also save the materials to a flash drive or make them available in your school’s computer lab. This is especially important if your students may have limited access to the internet at home or outside of school hours.
Keep in mind that since your students may have limited access to a computer so if you can, keep your lessons accessible from a smart phone or portable device. Also suggest places other than home where students can access the material they will need – a school computer lab or a public library, for example.
You might also choose to set up a google doc or dropbox folder for your students to access materials.
A flipped classroom might make you feel like your brain is flipping end over end, but I encourage you to try it.
You may find that the effort it takes to set things up is worth the great benefit your students have by moving instruction outside the classroom and practice within its walls.