Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Flipping the classroom: using a blended learning approach to actively engage students inside and outside of class

This was the title of a presentation at this year's VUS-TESOL conference, given by Rebecca Fletcher.  What follows is a summary of what she had to say.

How have teaching and students changed in the 21st century?
  • Students take pictures of the whiteboard, rather than taking notes.
  • Students’ attention spans are getting shorter.
  • Teachers need more activities to engage students. 
  • We now have interactive whiteboards.
  • The classroom is much more student centred and collaborative.
  • We use laptops and tablets rather than paper.
21st century student
What is blended learning?
Blended learning is teaching in the classroom mixed with learning outside the class.
Flipping the classroom – how does it work?
Flipping the classroom allows the school to become a place for talking, doing group projects and getting individual help from the teacher, and lets home become a place for doing pre-learning, such as watching instructional videos, and self-study.  Flipping what the student does means that they do the work ahead of time, come to class and debrief.  Students interact with the material before they come to class.  It empowers students to direct their own learning by coming to class ‘genned up’.
Why digital?
Digital is omnipresent in all aspects of life – we need to embrace it.  Flipping the classroom supports student centred learning and helps students make connections between the real world and the classroom.
What materials can be ‘flipped’?
  • video
  • audio files
  • powerpoints
  • documents
  • images
  • links to websites
It’s important to have a wide variety of materials.
Social networks
Use social networks to:
  • support self-paced learning
  • practise new language in an engaging environment
  • maximise authentic input
  • build a learning community
Using Facebook with your students
Students will be using English outside the classroom in an authentic way.
  • Create a page for each of your classes.  Students can ‘like’ the page and comment on the links.
  • Put images on Facebook and ask students, ‘what do you think will happen next?’ or ‘what happened just before this picture was taken?’
  • Students post comments on an image and then come into class and discuss them.
  • Students can write collaborative stories on Facebook.
For security, students should create a Facebook account to use only for students.
Where can you find materials to flip?
  • You can create your own or, better still, get students to create them.
  • Use publisher-created materials.
  • Use ELT websites.
Recommended websites  
Learning Management Systems
LMSs or VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) are software programmes which can be used to grade and monitor students.  One of the most well-known is Edmodo.  Teachers can assign work and track their students' progress.
We have progressed from PPP (present, practise, produce) to PPPP (present, practise, produce, publish).  Blogs are student-centred with student-generated content.
To conclude
Flipping the classroom saves time both inside and outside of the class.

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