Ever since the Khan Academy boom started, I’ve been waiting for them to expand their video selection from math and science to GRAMMAR. After all, doesn’t grammar have rules, correct answers, and objective information that can be memorized? Don’t these topics get lectured by teachers and professors everywhere?
Couldn’t language arts be “flipped”?
I decided not to wait on Khan Academy. It became apparent to me that the flipped classroom method was not only possible, but was a serious time-saver in my middle school language arts classroom.
I was drawn to the appeal of “outsourcing” lectures to homework so that I could spend my in-class minutes writing, close reading, and conferencing with students. Lecture still has a place in language arts; the place just wasn’t my classroom.
My ENTIRE world changed when I brutally asked myself one question:
When do students need to be WITH you, and when do they only need to hear it FROM you?
Once I got honest about this question, I realized that ELA could be flipped for many areas: vocabulary, grammar, propaganda techniques, literary devices, rhetorical terms, and frontloading information about authors, literary time periods, and texts.
I also make “how-to” videos: using Easybib.com, formatting docs in MS Word and Google docs, making works cited pages, modifying Google search results, etc.
Plus, I had a great mentor. My Social Studies teacher was already using the method:
He made PowerPoint lectures, recorded screencasts narrating over slides, and then uploaded them to Edmodo or Mentor Mob.
For homework, students watched videos and took a quick online quiz (through Edmodo) so he could see whether or not his students “got it”.
Using data from those quizzes, he’d spend the next day on stations activities, creative assignments, and projects that jumped from passive absorption to the application level.
Using Popplet, PowerPoint, and screencastomatic.com, I started small and flipped ONE area (vocabulary) using similar routines. But when I started to flip grammar too, I realized something: couldn’t the STUDENTS be doing this?
Thus, I made a grammar video project in which student small groups made instructional videos on specific grammar topics; these became the foundation for my entire year of flipping.
There ARE best practice to save time, create routines, and assess accurately. However, the excuses to NOT flip are starting to lose their validity:
Flipping requires teacher time “up front”, but it saves time later when you have a “bank” of videos to use next year. More videos are available online now, too.
Most secondary students have SOME device on which to watch a video. My vids are all .mp4 files so they can be viewed on PC and Apple products equally. (Some teachers just post on YouTube.)
The only thing that flipping truly requires is courage. But when you leap, the payoffs are huge: formative data, more classroom time, and a student body who sees you working WITH them, and not just FOR them.
Sara is a middle school language arts teacher who also has prior experience in high school ELA and Test Prep. She is a National Writing Project consultant with a Master’s degree in Integrated Language Arts 7-12; visit her Teachers Pay Teachers Store to see engaging projects for Secondary ELA.