Monday, 3 March 2014

Reflections on my first year experimenting with the "Flipped Model"

I teach at a technical school in Verona, Italy.   Last year I started converting my ESL/ESP

classes to  "flipped" courses, as I have found that this new methodology allows teachers

to use their time and resources in the best possible way.  The flipped approach has changed

the way teaching and learning occur in my classes.  Perhaps the most appealing aspect of

this teaching technique is that it allows students to review lessons anytime, anywhere on

their digital devices.   They can watch educational videos at home, reserving class time for

in-depth discussions or class projects. 


Flipped learning is more about "how" students  learn, as opposed to "when" they learn.  Using

Google Drive or Dropbox, Facebook and Vimeo, they can collaborate and stay connected with me. 

What they used to do in the classroom (listening to me explain a concept) is done instead

in a video format that the students watch at home for homework.   Similarly, what used to be

done at home (namely studying) is done in the classroom, where students can talk to me and

learn with each other in collaborative activities.


One of the biggest changes that has  resulted from the flip teaching method I adopted is that

now my teaching style is more dynamic and motivational than traditional teaching.  Last year I

asked myself: " What's the best use of my face-to-face time with my students?"  Flipped learning

means lower level thinking skills, such as lectures, are relegated to outside the classroom, while

the higher order skills of applying, evaluating and creating are done during class with the me. I

usually begin by introducing an idea; then after a brainstorming session, I explain the concept and

let the students research further on their computers.  Students work in small groups and help each

other, coaching those that are slower to catch on.   Together they create multimedia lessons that

they present to the class and then publish in a digital portfolio.


Another change I have noted is that these days when I walk around the classroom, I see my

students fully engaged on a regular basis - much more so more than would otherwise be the

case using traditional teaching.    The manner in which my students are interacting with each other

and with me is quite remarkable, ie. they feel that they are in control of their learning in a 

student-centered classroom.   Using the available technology to maximize class time for discussion

and other social aspects of teaching has given me more time to connect with individuals in the class.


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