My flipped teaching routine: it keeps getting better!

For the first time this school year I’ve had the chance to implement this strategy with a group of 14-year old English language learners. Would there be technical obstacles? Could I really produce videos myself or rely on external ones? And most importantly: how would my students react to this „innovation“? Here is the state of things after almost one full semester. 

My students have embraced the idea of getting to watch my self-made videos as homework. have Here’s what it looks like for me:

  • I create all the videos myself – using powerpoint slides, recording the screencast in Quicktime (which lets me do quick edits), then posting on youtube. To date I have 12 videos, all on various English grammar topics. I have had to abandon any pretense of perfection. If I make slight mistakes in the audio or discover typos in the slides I simply leave them.
  • I mix it up – Sometimes the kids get videos to watch and their next task is to post answers to questions in Google classroom or using a Google form. This works well for most. Sometimes their only follow up task is to hit the submit button in Google classroom. For me it’s important to keep ways of working lively and interesting, rather than   repetitive.
  • I explained and trained first – in the beginning I invested time in explaining what flipped classroom was and why I was doing it. I also demonstrated how they should watch the videos and made sure they knew how to do the follow-up tasks. This may sound unnecessary but it was a very valuable tip I read in this book, since there are a few kids who are not „digital natives“ and require scaffolding.
  • I ask for feedback regularly – I ask kids to rate my videos on a Google form. I can’t stress enough how important and rewarding this is. Kids are the best judges of quality and mine were unafraid to voice their opinions. Because of their feedback I decided to invest in an external microphone (Samson GoMic) so I could deliver better audio quality.

The experience has been enjoyable so far, but it’s not without its drawbacks. I have to plan well in advance e.g. if I know I’m giving them a video on Friday as homework, I have to make sure it’s done, up and ready to be posted for them. It’s also still time-consuming for me to create the slide presentations, since I have to make sure (as best possible) that I am accurate. Still I have it down to about 1 or 2 hours at the moment, which is a lot, especially when I’m tired.

Flipped teaching is still trial-and-error for me. But I still feel that the work and time is worth it, if I am making the best of the time in the classroom and if they have explanations available whenever they need it. And it reinforces one of my missions: to make my classroom truly student-centered. As Aaron Sams put it:

“Flipping the classroom is more about a mindset: redirecting attention away from the teacher and putting attention on the learner and the learning.”

(Flip your classroom: Reach very student in every class every day pg. 10)