A glimpse of the future? The flipped classroom

Much discussion has been going on recently about the reverse methods advanced by some teachers, where the actual ‘learning’ (understood as going over new concepts) happens outside class, and the ‘practice’ takes place in the classroom.

I have been teaching a bit like this lately, taking benefit from having a cohort which are in their early twenties – all of them with access to the Internet and time to spare. Until now I had been using Moodle for expansion or extended practice of what was seen in class, and general feedback was very positive, although adults complained about the time they wished they had in order to go over the materials. Since I follow a mixed model with my younger students – not the one proposed below – results depend greatly upon student commitment to self-study, and cannot be widely assumed to work better. What I can tell you that it does happen is a lot more talking and discussing in class, more time for listening and vocabulary expansion, and much more language in context. I feel we spend very little time on the textbook, and an awful lot on ‘English’.

I suggest that you have a look at the excellent, informative post below.


A penny for your thoughts?

New addition: free web tools to flip your classroom


14 thoughts on “A glimpse of the future? The flipped classroom

  1. Hi, Antonio. I didn’t know this concept, but I think that students can read or write at home, and there’s where they do it. Sometimes we do it in class, but just to explore or teach them new methods. Lessons are too short to spend 20 minutes reading a text, or an hour writing. In class we tend to speak, speak, speak, and listen.
    Thank you for making me feel I’m not alone.

  2. I suppose that those of us who use technology in our class keep in mind that teaching cannot revolve around the teacher, and that the idea of autonomous learning is essential for students. But it also true that we cannot expect our students to get involved to such a degree as this approach suggests. And I think that those of us who use blogs, moodle, or private Facebook groups apply these ideas to a certain point, don’t you think?

  3. Thanks for your comments. I agree with both of you that some (but certainly not most) of us already use an approach which is partially based upon this model. As with the Communicative Approach, there are people using something similar for decades before the model is formulated. Now, whether the full model of the flipped classroom is a trend to be fully applied in a near future remains to be seen, but nevertheless I think it makes sense that we’d be teaching a lot more like this in ten years’ time.

    What I think must change is not only our approach to what we do in class (which I think it has already changed), but our student’s approach to their own learning. Classes would become more effective, and some people would realise you don’t learn a language by sitting in a chair, nor do we have the magical powers to voodoo English into people without their active involvement.

    • That’s the key of the question, Antonio. But how do you convince them? The problem with teaching is that the results of our efforts are not obvious immediately. I don’t think many students dislike the traditional approach of many teachers and don’t seem to prefer one that involves working harder on their own. Many love to be given photocopies with loads of grammar and vocabulary exercises. The funny thing is that they are really good at doing them without mistakes but are unable to use the structures and words in real context.

  4. And what about convincing other staff members in our schools? Following new approaches always leads to controversy, both among students and teachers.
    I’m always trying to find a balance, trying to convince those who enjoy all methods and giving them some of their favourite medicine just to keep them calm.

  5. I think it is true that we can’t expect that kind of commitment from our EOI students as for the majority learning a language is something they do on top of their main activities but for me the fact remains that without this kind of commitment learning won’t actually take place or if it does it will come slowly, at speed directly proportional to their desgree of involvement in their own learning process. Another question is whether the old kind of classroom is still possible, I don’t think it is.

    • I think you hit the nail on the fact of speed and pace of learning. Without going to extremes, something must change for our students to progress as fast as the EOI programme of studies expects in all FOUR skills, specially productive ones. People without much commitment to learning should take longer than these two academic years to move forward. The thing is, is it really happening? Can EVERYONE with a certified level perform at that level in all four skills?

      • Obviously not all of them can. I think both teachers and students should stop considering the learning process like some kind of race where you have to get to the end first and realize it is the process that matters not the end. As it is, everybody seems more intent on passing from one level to the next than on actual learning …

    • It’s true that part of the learning takes place in class, but students need to work on their own somehow. I always ask them to use English in their life, and think that they are not making an effort, they have to assume it’s part of their life. Technology has changed the way we learn and it provides us with endless resources. I remember the time I learned English, when finding a film in the original version was very difficult.

  6. We could try this approach with our students and report the results. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t do as many things as I would like to in class for fear of rejection, because unfortunately students tend to be quite conservative in their attitude to learning. It is said that Spanish sense of ridicule makes Spanish speakers poor learners, but I think it is more a question of passivity, they like sitting there and being told what to do, without making decisions. This approach might help them to do things differently.

  7. Well, I have that feeling as well María. I have been trying to make my students use all the possibilities technology and real life give to build learning strategies, but there is a reluctance to spare any time outside the classroom. I guess it is a matter of habit and it is in our hands to change that.

    One of my colleagues has a very interesting activity called “fortnight(ly) news”, every fifteen days students bring a piece of news to discuss in class. In groups they have to fill discussion sheet” with the topic of the news, vocabulary, ideas and a few more features I don’t remember right now. On top of that, at the beginning of the year she passes a list with the writings to be handed in during the year and deadlines, for those who wish could start working on them in advance.

    I have recently taken on the idea of recording podcasts (thanks to Manuel Viera [http://lesilesenfle.wikispaces.com/BIENVENUE+]) to assess speaking skills and I must admit the response was amazingly positive. The key: I believed it could work.

    Taking on board a huge change in learning like this forces us teachers to work in advance not only on what we want to achieve, but also to firmly believe in what we are doing works and it is worth.

  8. Pingback: Auge y caída de la clase al revés: ¿lecciones aprendidas? | Cosas que encuentro para clase

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