Have you ever heard of a flipped classroom? Even if the concept is wholly new to you, we bet you have done at least a small version of it at some point in your career if you’re a teacher. But what exactly is flipped classroom, and what benefits can it bring you and your students?
Learning in a flipped classroom
A traditional lesson might go something like this: during the lesson, the teacher introduces the topic of the lesson and gives an overview of the information that they want the students to learn. Students then do some exercises to start getting a feel for the new information, and they continue this at home through homework, expanding and applying the new information.
There is nothing wrong with this kind of a lesson; in fact, it is a very efficient way to go over new information in a controlled way. However, sometimes in a lesson like this most of the classroom time is spent on information sharing (the input), leaving little to no time for questions and for applying the information (the output). This last part is crucial in the learning process – the aim is, after all, that students can apply the information in their lives instead of simply reproducing a textbook version of it. Therefore, shouldn’t most of the classroom time with the subject expert – the teacher – be spent on working with the information? This conundrum is what flipped classroom aims to solve.
In short, a flipped classroom reverses the “classroom + homework” dynamic and content. The initial introduction and basics that students would normally get during class they now acquire independently before class, for example through reading an article, watching a video, using digital tools, or group work. This way once students come to class they already have a basic understanding of the topic and classroom time can be used to practice applying the information in more complex real-world situations, to correct potential misunderstandings, and to answer students’ questions.
Is it worth it?
The benefit of the flipped classroom method is that the teacher doesn’t need to spend time on pouring over information that the students could gain independently. Instead, they can focus on the trickier parts of the learning content, on helping students apply the knowledge, and on building meaningful connections with the students. The benefit for the students is that they get to take a more active role in the learning process which enhances their learning and independence. The flipped classroom method can be used for both online or offline teaching, and it goes well together with student-centered, project-based, and problem-based approaches.
The increased student independence can also be a challenge, because if students don’t do the independent work before class, it will be very difficult for them to participate during class. You can help students with this by clearly explaining the role of the pre-class work to them and taking the time to go over the expectations and instructions. You can even offer some reward to those who come to class prepared. Using digital tools that give you reports of each student can help you keep track of and send reminders to students who are slipping. It can also help to clue the parents in on the method you are using. It may take some time and explaining but after a while your students will build up the routine and understand that they will get much more out of the class if they do the pre-class work.
At first glance, flipped classroom may seem like a completely new way of teaching, but many teachers are already using light forms of it for example when they ask students to read an article and answer some questions about the next lesson’s topic. You don’t need to flip your whole curriculum to use the flipped classroom method; you can start with one topic or lesson and build on that as you go along.
Flipped classroom is one of the many teaching methods used in Moomin Language School. In Moomin Language School, children learn English vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation independently with the service’s learning application before they have a playful lesson with a teacher and other students. During the lessons, children use the new language to play together and to communicate with the teacher and each other.
This text is based on our fall webinar series: The New Way to Teach Languages. Thank you for everyone who joined us throughout the fall, and we look forward to seeing you in our webinars in the future!
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