My school is all about doing things differently if that's going to mean putting control into our students' hands and minds. For me, the practice of "Flipping" a lesson, whereby learning of new material is done in advance of the lesson to allow implementation of that learning or deepening of a concept to take place in a lesson, holds huge potential. Having listened to Sadie Mclachlan of Wildern School at #ililc4 back in February, discussed it with Sam Lunn and read various articles and posts I wanted to give it a try to see how my students responded.
The students are currently finalising their descriptions of their mexican characters and are in the process of writing them up, whilst also making the decision about whether they are going to cross the border or not. However, when we first started the unit in February I asked students to mindmap out what they thought they would need to be able to do in order to fully describe their characters and a large number of the students said clothes and styles. So...
What I did not want to do was just stand at a board and lead a choral session. My views on that are well-known and my students don't need it- their pronunciation is coming on well thanks to the phonics work that we are constantly doing. As such, I decided to create some Flipped materials.
First off I tried playing with PowToon. I liked the look of some of its animations and I thought it could be fun. I was wrong. It's not very user friendly and took me hours to get anywhere, whilst the lack of animations within slides is very limiting. So after many hours of frustration I gave up. I hate giving up.
At which point I reverted to loading an old version of Camtasia onto my new (ie not the one I had when I got the disk) laptop. Camtasia allows you to record your screen, add a voiceover and edit. It's fab.
At which point I created a very simple PowerPoint containing a few key items of clothes (I was using this to look at genders and adjectival agreement would be the focus of the next lesson), as well as key verbs (nouns ain't nothing without them thar verbs). I recorded it, edited it and posted it to YouTube.
Most of the students found the video useful and non-threatening. In hindsight I think it's too slow- I was trying not to rattle through each item but I think more pace and more quick catch-up slides would have been good. Some students did switch off- and were daunted when they saw 14.07 as the video length! The students were supposed to take notes, although many found this difficult- useful feedback to follow up on.
Step 2 of the Flipping was to practise their new learning. I've had some initial misgivings about Memrise due to the risk of inappropriate images being used, but it's growing on me. It's nothing mindblowing, but some useful, free practice.
So I created a course using the language from the video, but also added a few extra layers for my higher achieving students to then add to their own knowledge bank. My high achievers LOVED it.
The course is at http://www.memrise.com/course/278667/la-ropa-sr-fuller/
Having allowed them to learn I now wanted to assess it. So, following Sadie and Wildern's lead, I then set up a Google Form to test the basic vocab and sentence building ability of the students. However, to mark all of these individually would take a fair bit of time. Which is where Flubaroo came in useful- a tool explained to me by the lovely Rachel Smith , an add-on which marks Google Docs for you and gives you a breakdown of how each question has been dealt with- really, really useful, free, and darned simple to use. So all of a sudden, within a few clicks, I had scores for how each student had got on, which questions they had really struggled with and which I would need to work on next time.
My plan was to use these scores to then assign groups for the next lesson. One group for students who had obviously "got it", one for those who needed more support with the sentence building and retention of new language and one for those who clearly didn't get it or who had not done their homework (although, in this case we don't have homework- because we have an extended school day students are set independent learning tasks for independent learning sessions).
In general the feedback about doing it this way round was overwhelmingly positive. However, I think the launch video needs some work, but more than that what really needs pinning down is the following lesson. I wasn't pleased with how it went (those of you who know me know this is often the case, I set myself very high standards!!!). A lot more to learn from those who are also experimenting!