Last year my principal presented a very unique opportunity for me to flip instruction in my classroom. His motivation was to try and reach more students on all levels. As our conversation progressed, we discussed specifically students who struggle getting homework turned in and students who need to be challenged. Furthermore, we talked about how flipped lessons provide student an opportunity to go back and watch a lesson over as many times as needed if the student was not understanding it the first time as it often happens after a teacher is going through a lesson while in front of the classroom. Unfortunately, there is no rewind button for teachers. However, if a student is watching a flipped lesson, they can rewind as often as needed.
Flipping is not a secret and is an innovative way to deliver instruction to students. A flipped classroom is where a traditional teaching methods are switched where instruction is delivered through online videos and other resources such as websites. In addition, the “homework” portion is then done in the classroom. Students watch lectures outside of classroom, working at their own pace and application of the learned processes take place in the classroom with the help of the teacher. Having some background knowledge of what a flipped classroom is and does, I was more than willing to implement this instructional strategy into my classroom. In the Spring of 2013, my principal sent myself and one other teacher to a professional development where we were able to have some hands on experience with how to flip our respective classrooms. In addition, he handed us Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams.
Upon furthering my own knowledge of flipping, I took the time to develop a plan to flip just one part of my instruction when it came to my language arts classroom. I didn’t want to overwhelm my students and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself when it came to this innovative way for my instruction. So, I decided to flip only the grammar part of my instruction. There are educators who do flip their entire language arts classrooms, but with me being a novice I was not ready to take that plunge. I have chosen to flip grammar because most students find grammar boring and to be quite honest, so do I as their teacher. Flipping grammar allows me to put together an instructional video where I use Camtasia, Snagit, or Touchcast. Camtasia and Snagit are both products from Techsmith and are fairly inexpensive. Touchcast is free, which fits everyone’s budget. Below is a sample of a Touchcast flipped lesson I did using Touchcast.
In addition, to these great digital tools that are available, teachers can go on Youtube and find some excellent videos to use as well for flipped lessons. As students finish watching a flipped lesson I have them fill out a WSQ sheet that they can turn into me either digitally or by hand. WSQ stands for WATCH, SUMMARIZE, and QUESTION. If you follow the link provided for their WSQ outline you will see I have added some additional components that they must follow to get full credit. The WSQ is to measure their understanding of the video they watched. The day their WSQ outline is due, is the day they do an activity associated with the lesson on the flipped video. For example, for the touchcast video mentioned above on sentence structure, the students create sentence strips that are displayed around the classroom as models for the different types of sentences. I try to mixup the activities they do for the lessons so they aren’t always doing a drill and kill type worksheet. Furthermore, I extend student’s understanding by having them incorporate the latest grammar skill(s) into the writing project they are currently working on. With my school being on 9 week marking periods, I layout the entire marking period for the students week by week in a table for them to follow. Students can work as far ahead of me as they want, they just can’t be behind.
In my opinion, I feel that any teacher can flip their classroom or flip some aspect of their classroom. As I continue to work on flipping my grammar lessons this year, I am constantly reflecting back on what I can do to make it better for my students and to make them more engaged learners.
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