The flipped classroom

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The flipped classroom

The flipped classroom: a truly student-centred methodology

A truly student-centred methodology

What happens in classrooms today?

I n most classrooms today students come in, they take their seats, and the teacher walks through a presentation of content. Sometimes they use videos, a Power Point presentation; sometimes they might do exploratory learning, or have students make observations….

This is all passive learning. Our students are not really engaging with the information, but just absorbing the information. Research shows that most students absorb 20% – 80% of the content presented in class. This means that there is a gap. Even the best and brightest students sometimes don’t master the content the first time it’s given to them.

This is where extension activities come into play. Then teachers have to reinforce the extension activities in the form of homework.

But wait!! All is not lost! Having lived through this annual process on multiple occasions, at My Language Hub (MLH), we are well placed to understand pragmatically, and through experience, that there is a way to reverse this situation and redress the balance. Few teenagers will be able to see through the obscure veil of pending doom that they do have good and naturally inquisitive brains that, given the right conditions, will soak up the detail and explanation afforded them on a personal or even group level.

On numerous occasions, we have witnessed pupils, sometimes even during an initial exploratory session, indignantly explain that they wished they had been explained things in such a clear manner from the outset and how the general standard of teaching must have dropped significantly from when we at MLH were young!! Ours is not to reason why!! It would be a soft, facile and counterproductive win to point out the obvious at this stage and make our young learners feel repentant or rub their noses in their own recalcitrance.

The key to this rebirth and arising from the depths of ignorance is a recognition of the need to keep mouths firmly closed, and eyes and ears studiously open. Within a relatively short period of time, as long as there is a real desire to learn and succeed, we can guarantee that ground will be made up and benefits will undoubtedly be reaped.

Our key message here is for the parents, guardians and carers of these young individuals you have just completed a ‘Ben 10-esque’ morph into some type of monster of their own choosing! What we hope should be taken from this blog is that this is not an isolated incident that no one or few others are experiencing. As the title indicates, this is a yearly occurrence and can be viewed in a positive light; at least the teenager in question has made the realisation that something needs to be done and that there is a real desire to succeed, even if this is coming at the 10th or 11th hour.

Should the above have tweaked a nerve or been recognised as relevant to any family’s current predicament, please do not hesitate to visit our Educational Services webpage below for more details.

Research also shows that true mastery of content takes place when students use the extension activities to reinforce the learning. Highly effective strategies include students engaging and working inside the content, not just sitting and listening and absorbing the content.

At My Language Hub, we want our students to master content. This allows us to spend more time doing group projects and language activities that will allow our students to move from hearing content to mastering content. We are investing time in researching and in becoming proficient in new technologies to benefit our students.

… when extension activities are used to reinforce the learning, that’s where true mastery of content takes place.

The flipped classroom allows us to align our practices to the way our students learn best. Using the flipped-classroom approach, students learn to gain the knowledge at home. We use a variety of educational technologies and tools to equip them to be successful, and to go outside of our classroom and learn the things that they need to learn. Therefore, when students come to class we’re going to:

  • dedicate 100% of instructional time to help them actively learn

  • free ourselves up for more 1:1 and small group interactions

  • increase the level of academic talk and vocabulary used inside of our classrooms, and

  • ultimately, push our students to master this content

    What happens in a flipped classroom?

    … students at the front displaying their learning …

    By analogy, by reading this blog, you are actually participating in the same model as the flipped classroom. You chose to read this article, and you are choosing to educate yourself on this teaching approach. When you finish reading this article, you may have fully understood the rationale behind this method. Others, however, may need to read a bit more round this topic. You might not fully understand it, you might not fully buy into it. However, we could sit down and talk about it. Those who really get it could mentor and tutor the ones who don’t. We could therefore quickly move through misunderstandings, and we could quickly fill in gaps in knowledge.

    The essential premise of the flipped classroom is that we’re gaining the knowledge on our own. Then, we’re going to master that content utilising each other’s resources.

    Now, imagine this scenario. Students show up to class with the base understanding of the Subjunctive (grammar topic for the day). Students walk in and say,

    I sort of understand how the Subjunctive is used, but I just don’t really know how to put it in a sentence.

    So, students that did get it can teach the students that didn’t. Alternatively, the students that really got it can work in a group altogether, and the teacher can focus on those who didn’t, instead of having to teach the whole class. That’s the real power of the flipped classroom.

    A truly student-centred approach

    This approach is centred around students. It moves away from the teacher at the front of the room presenting the material, to students being the ones at the front of the room displaying their learning. This is a really powerful tool. Teachers can now put their resources and expertise to work with students that need additional help.

    Also, we can identify the low-end and the high-end of the students and we can level them out. Therefore, we can close the achievement gap by successfully implementing the flipped classroom.

    The flipped classroom also draws upon the ideas of problem-based learning, and exploratory learning. Students need to learn how to gain information themselves.

    … we can close the achievement gap by successfully implementing the flipped classroom …

    The basic tenets of any educational system are to create students that are both university (or college), and career-ready.

    What happens in their first year of university? Imagine you are a first-year student at university. You walk into a giant auditorium packed with a hundred other students. The lecturer is at the front giving information and you are just sitting there taking down notes frantically. At the end of that lecture, you are expected to have the study skills to go home and master the content that you really don’t quite understand yet.

    If we flipped the model of instruction, the students read some material, or watch some videos, and they’re going to gain some information and knowledge. Later, when students come to class, they can call upon those ideas, and the teacher models the content. In this way, the students can actually master the content that they have just barely started to understand. And this is how we can help our students to be successful.

    … students interact with their peers, developing good communication skills, a pre-requisite in today’s workplace…

    And how can the flipped classroom help in the workplace? In this student-centred environment, they’re going to learn how to interact with their peers, developing good communication skills. Our students are going to be proficient at having a debate or an argument, challenging ideas, coming to a conclusion, and being able to communicate that conclusion. These are skills that are a requirement in today’s workforce, where our students will be prepared to enter and be competitive.

    In a nut shell, the flipped classroom provides the following benefits to our students:

    • focus on active learning during class

    • more one-to-one time with the teacher

    • increased differentiated learning

    • students become self-learners at home

    • class time becomes 100% student-centred

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