We often say how lucky we are to work as MFL teachers who are so keen to collaborate and share ideas. So when we have Twitter chats about flipped learning, we often try to encourage new 'flippers' to share their experiences for us on our blog. We must have twisted lovely Jo's arm, as she has not only flipped a lesson, but written a brilliant reflection for us here. You can catch Jo on Twitter here @JoTidmarsh if you want to ask her any questions about her lesson, but for now, thank you Jo, and over to you....
Teaching an old dog new tricks or she who dares wins??
Thought I’d share my first full on experience of flipping my classroom with you all! I might also add that I am so convinced of the benefits of this that I actually chose to do it for an observed lesson with my least favourite class!!!
I should probably introduce myself first??? I’m Jo, Curriculum leader across all Key Stages for Spanish. I’ve been teaching for 17 years but I’m reasonably new to twitter (@jotidmarsh) so have found #mfltwitterati to be the most inspirational source of ideas and quite frankly the best CPD I’ve ever had the pleasure to have. I’m constantly looking to find new ways to enthuse the language learners in my classroom but we have limited tech resources (I only got an IWB 2 years ago!). I was quite taken with some of the ideas that @missmclachlan and her colleagues have been throwing around and knew very early on that I had the power to make this work to my pupils’ advantage! Sadie’s help and advice was gratefully received and when she asked me to guest blog about it I could hardly refuse.
Of course it’s not really a new concept is it this flipping? I’ve lost count of the number of times in the past that I have set “learn this vocabulary so that we can hit the ground running next lesson” as homework. But what are revolutionary are the tech tools that are available to us to enable our learners to now do this task much more effectively.
So what is in my technologically whizzy bag of tricks for flipping?? Firstly, a virtual vocabulary classroom for every single pupil on Quizlet. I create sets of vocab and record my own voice onto the flashcards which the children think is hysterical (????). I have seen a marked improvement on vocab test scores and comprehension since making this part of learning homework. It’s great for improving spelling and rapid recall.
Secondly, the power of YouTube reigns supreme in the world of Flipping. And at this point I must admit to cheating a bit and using a ready made video. One of Sadie and Javier’s to be truthful on “Las películas” (Gracias!). But what’s the point in reinventing the wheel! Technical issues prevented me from creating my own this time but my intentions are honourable and I’ll get there eventually. A summer holiday project!
And the last weapon in my flipping armoury? A Google Form. Quick and easy to set up and a great way to make sure that the pupils have actually done their homework!! All their answers are logged and collated on a spreadsheet for me to check.
Did I mention that this was to be an observed lesson with a focus on progression, differentiation and developing spontaneous speaking? Ha Ha!! You’ve got to be in it to win it folks!!!
Step 1: Flip away!
Setting up the resources and establishing with the pupils what they needed to do was simple. I also shared the resources with my SLT observer at the same time as the pupils to give him a real taste of the whole learning experience. We let him join the class on Quizlet first and then shared the link to the video and Google Form.
Step 2: The next lesson!
As their starter activity pupils were shown a dialogue between two friends arranging to go to the cinema and talking about film preferences. They then had three minutes to correct the mistakes in some statements on a mini worksheet based on the conversation.
This was swiftly followed by an ‘En la taquilla’ listening comprehension.
So far so good! Up until this point I have been able to use target language exclusively. There have been no puzzled looks or huffing and puffing from the ‘I don’t get it corner’.
Next, we tried some ‘FeedForward’, rather than ‘FeedBack’, based on their responses to the Google form. As their submissions had been coming in I had decided to traffic light their answers on the form. Green for ‘Good to go!’, Amber for ‘Hold on a sec!’ and Red for ‘Stop right there and have another go!’. I displayed this on the board and asked them to Think, Pair, Share about the mistakes that they could see. Three or four minutes later we had firmly established that, for some, adjectival agreement had not been at the forefront of their minds when completing the task and that despite being told a million times not to forget the ‘the’ after verbs of opinion there were a few of them that had!! We then used this ‘FeedForward’ to help us do the next task – a 10 minute Sticky Note Translation Race!
The class are familiar with this activity so the transition was smooth and the confidence in the room was palpable!! I have two new pupils in this set who are effectively 2 years behind the rest of the group having never studied Spanish before. For them flipping using ‘Quizlet’ has proved invaluable to filling in some of the gaps in their basic vocabulary range. Sadie and Javier’s video had also allowed them to think about the structure of the opinion phrases at their own pace. It gave them the confidence to come into the classroom knowing just as much as the others did and their pronunciation and intonation is coming on leaps and bounds. Essentially, it takes the pressure off once they get into the classroom. On this occasion I was able to ‘peer support’ them with the more able in the class and move around the classroom freely helping them all when or if they needed it.
By now we are fast approaching the end (doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?) of our forty minute lesson and so it was time to draw things to a close. Once we’d worked out the winners of the Sticky Note Translation Race our plenary involved reflecting on and considering the benefits of flipping our classroom. We talked about why it had worked for them and what hadn’t. It was a great way to evaluate the lesson. Understanding the way your learner feels about what you ask them to do should surely be high on your ‘to do’ list when planning any lesson!! Their responses were honest and positive. They liked being able to rewind the video and listen again – they liked the interactive nature of the google form and how we analysed the mistakes in it and fed them forward so as not to make them again – they learned that proof reading their work before submitting it might be a good idea – they liked feeling confident when speaking/writing– they felt empowered to make faster progress – they left happy. So did my observer. :) So did I :)!