And You Should, Too!
This article is really a thought challenge. There are no recipes inside, but there is some food for thought.
We can flip this article by challenging you to think up flipped activities and post them in the comment thread below. They may be lessons you’ve tried or techniques, ideas you’ve researched or read about.
So much has been written about the flipped classroom, but what is really inside a flip?
Here are some social learning perspectives that may be a little different from the vast literature already published on the subject.
But first we need a clear definition of flipped learning for those of us new to this approach, or those of us who have been subjected to various, confusing interpretations.
In flipped learning scenarios we ‘give the homework’ before we teach the lesson, instead of the other way around.
How can we give homework if we haven’t taught the lesson yet?
We can stop seeing it as homework and see it more as pro-active experimentation on the part of students.
…or see it as autonomous learning.
….or see it as a form of fun personalization.
…or see it as exploiting the bounties of technology & multimedia
…and/or all of the above and more.
We’ve heard these educational concepts bandied about as catch-phrases so often that it’s possible that we’ve begun to filter out their true relevance or implications for education.
Today I’m taking another look at what flipping is really like for students and how far-reaching its implications may actually be.
When we place learning into the hands of students, the results are surprising, inspiring and personalized as students create their own language stories, whether these are in the form of text, dialogue, discussion threads, comics, blogs, videos, music, art, citizen journalism, podcasting, imagery, or mash-ups of all of the above.
When we place learning into the hands of students they express themselves authentically from the heart and mind whether they are going to explore vocabulary, text, grammar, or any combination of challenges that a teacher or examiner can think of.
Most teachers want personalized, creative work from their students but face a number of obstacles in the classroom.
1) Daunting rows of seats in front of them or virtual classrooms with large numbers of students.
2) Classroom management challenges.
3) Time management challenges.
4) Lack of equipment /technology to facilitate creativity via multimedia.
5) Lack of motivation, confidence or know-how on the part of students.
Now let’s take a look at the word cloud above and imagine what students could achieve if ‘homework’ was not really homework, but instead, a flow activity where students discover themselves and each other through their discovery of the target language and creative multimedia.
What is a flow activity?
When we set creative challenges for students we provide them with optimal learning experiences.
According to , Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , author of “Flow:the psychology of happiness”–
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive,relaxing times – the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limit in voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”
We can facilitate the psychology of happiness in our teaching lives by allowing students to make their own meaning.
Meaning-making in this sense is not about re-inventing language or inventing slang words, but re-inventing a students relationship with what he/she learns through creative media.
Students form new relationships with language, then with their own minds through self-discovery, and finally with each other and the wider world through social learning and sharing.
Flipping with technology.
Whether you work online or seek to connect your school with the world in a blended learning capacity, you can easily switch to setting multimedia challenges for students before class so that student creations as well as student discoveries can be examined, discussed, practised and corrected in class.
Rather than list the endless ideas you can get from just one piece of media such as a word cloud, image or meme, I will refer you to the word cloud I made above and challenge you to think of how your own students can be challenged to use free, simple tools to discover and enhance their own relationships with language and the wider world.
Online environments lend themselves perfectly to flipped learning approaches. This is because a good learning environment will allow students to upload their own work, share links, and take part in online discussions asynchronously 24/7.
Staggering student input.
One challenge to flipping your learning-scape is the reality that some students will want to produce multimedia master pieces, whilst others can’t or won’t invest as much time on their pre-class challenges.
Something very interesting I found in the latest book called ‘Going Mobile’ by Gavin Dudeney and Nicky Hockly was that students can engage with the media of their own choice and still fulfill the basic objectives before your lesson.
Dudeney and Hockly describe flexible activities that can be used either with the simplest technology or with the latest and smartest devices. This is what we need to do with flipped classes.
An example would be engaging with imagery. Some students may learn how to find creative commons images and post or upload them somewhere to talk about in class. Others may add text to their images. Others might make simple videos of a stream of images with background music.
All of these students have achieved the goal and shared something of themselves, as well as discover more about themselves and the nature of visual learning, meaning-making, and providing content for class discussion .
Final note to teachers:
If you want to go further into multimedia and find the best moments in your own future teaching lives – as in FLOW – join me in exploring simple multimedia tools and their creative applications in my new webinar series soon to be launched called:
“Edtech in Twenty Minutes”
Small skills that make a big difference.
Twenty minute webinars, accompanied with class recordings, discussion forums, and related blog posts. Each webinar will feature useful skills and tools that will enhance your teaching skills and online presence.
I’ll leave you with some flow for thought;
If you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi