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The Flipped Classroom – an #ELTChat Summary

This is a summary of an #ELTChat that took place on the 24th April, 9pm BST. We discussed flipped classrooms in language teaching. If you’re keen to find out more about #ELTChat, visit the website and join the discussion every Wednesday!

1. What the Flip? – Defining a flipped language classroom

Rather than having the basic terms and concepts out of the way soon, we found ourselves asking, again and again, what a flipped classroom is and what it means in the language learning context. Lots of good ideas were suggested, to list but a few:

– “The students reading something or watching something at home and then engaging actively with the topic in class” (@naomishema)
– “having the “meat” of lessons available to students outside of class, but in an engaging format that makes them want to do it, so that students can go over the key concepts on their own, then come to class with their questions, which the teacher +students address” (@RebuffetBroadus)
– I think of the idea as freeing up class time for production and meaningful use of language, discussion etc. (@jo_sayers)

The questions and issues around the definition of flipped classrooms were mainly concerned with the use of technology (is it mandatory for flipped classroom success?) and content (does studying vocabulary and watching videos count towards making a classroom flipped?). This quickly led to a discussion of the pros and cons of flipped classrooms.

2. To flip…

In a variety of contexts, the idea of a flipped classroom got a warm welcome, at least in theory: chatters were quick to pick up on its uses and strong points.

– “Traditional face-to-face only lessons don’t meet companies’ needs or professional constraints. Employees are not always there to attend” (@RebuffetBroadus)
– (online videos) Yes, that would be more appealing to teens. Or short “lectures” (@tanyatrusler)
– “Giving my high-school students online homework helped made more kids do h.w. especially with personal comments from me” (@naomishema)
– “Khan Academy have ways of highlighting where learners are having probs and pairing for peer help/teaching. I like that idea” (@jo_sayers)

It seems that with busy and demanding professionals – and with younger adult classes – flipped classrooms could be the answer to two completely different questions, namely time management and motivation. But, as we were quick to point out, not all is marvellous in the flipped classroom scenario.

3. …or not to flip?

The idea of a flipped classroom came under scrutiny from at least two points of view. Our main reservations included: “workload” on the teachers and students, as well as the technological constraints of the concept. The following list is a sample of these critical voices:

-“The research seems to suggest that homework does not raise learning. What is flipped if it is not overloading SS with homework?” (@TheSecretDos)
– “I’m worried by the eagerness of some educators to blow $ on tech the moment they hear a new catchphrase. Flipped classroom could be the same story.” (@Wiktor_K)
– “How does this work in a very common situation that not all students can be relied on to do homework, or to come to every session?” (@e_d_driscoll)

The latter criticism was shared by several chatters, from a variety of backgrounds, suggesting that the time and workload were critical in language education where flipped classrooms were considered.

4. Flip better / flip different: Suggestions and ideas

This has always been #ELTChat’s strong point, and the chatters delivered once again. Far be it from us to buy into an idea without reservations – some creative ways to improve the flipped classroom concept were shared that night:

– “VLEs are a good way to avoid too much chalk&talk! Could set a video + chat discussion pre-lesson?” (@RebuffetBroadus)
– “No one has mentioned individualised homework. I’m special ed teacher. different homework for different students. For SOME students that’s GREAT” (@naomishema)
– “But I think we’d lecture a lot less than a maths teacher. We would probably find another way (example, activity etc).” (@theteacherjames)
– “I see potential in providing input up front, leaving more time in class. Wouldn’t change lessons but allow for more time” (@theteacherjames)

5. Resources, links, references

For a detailed transcript that inspired this summary, follow this link. This is also a good place to look for extra resources and further info on the flipped classroom
For a video that inspired the chatters, follow this link.
And don’t forget to check #ELTChat out on their own website. For language teachers – and inquisitive language learners – this is a great and welcoming tribe!

(photo source: ELTpics)


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