Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Reflection on my flipped classroom experience

A redbrickED article by Joshua Sollie

Reflection on using a flipped classroom to introduce grammar topics in a World Languages Classroom.

I recently created a video explaining a grammar topic and an online worksheet for students to complete to test their comprehension.  I used it as an introduction to talking about how long we have been doing something.  The video (based off of the textbook explanation)  to watch at home was about five minutes in length and although it had my voice, I did not appear on the video.  The worksheet consisted of four comprehension questions and then three questions (test questions) for students to answer to test their ability to apply their knowledge of the topic. 

Opposite the video, I gave students the option of reading an explanation in class which mirrored the video presentation of the grammar topic and filling in a worksheet (paper) with the same comprehension questions and the same questions to test their ability to apply the topic.   During this time I did not tell the students they could not use me as resource, but few decided to ask me any questions.

I evaluated their responses and divided them into two categories.  The first category is where comprehension is achieved and proven through correct responses on the set of test questions.   The second category is where students do not comprehend and is proven through incorrect responses on the set of test questions. Here are the results:

 Students obtaining comprehension and application
Students not able to comprehend and then apply.
Online video (20 students)
Written explanation (23 students)

As you can see the results are almost flipped with the students watching the video and filling in the online worksheet comprehending and applying near a 75% rate; with the opposite results for the students reading the explanation with near 75% of the students not comprehending.  Also, the errors that the students who watched the video made were mostly errors stemming from their understanding of verb conjugations and not necessarily from their understanding of the grammar construction.  Meanwhile the range of errors for students who read the explanation was greater with no apparent patterns noticed.  

I was rather astonished by the results. I must admit I was apprehensive about trying this method, not being sure whether watching a video for understanding would be a worthwhile activity and if it would help the students learn.  I tend, I think as we all do, to exaggerate the importance of the teacher’s physical presence for student comprehension.   What I am beginning to understand through this exercise is that as teachers we need to start building a digital presence which helps our students learn in order to supplement our physical presence.  The role of the teacher is not in any way diminished, because we are still monitoring and instructing our students.  The difference in this digital age is that students have increased opportunities to learn and we have increased opportunities to guide and give feedback.

Another epiphany I bumped into (again) is that students are digital learners.  I learned with pencil, paper, textbooks and overheads.   Today’s students learn through online tutorials, videos, web chats, mobile devices and exploration.  I did not track the number of students who supplemented their watching of the video with their own research and practice, although it would be interesting to measure this as well.  This is, and should be, the most effective way for them to learn.   It is the way they interact with the world and is the means through which they will perform their jobs.

My next step is to create another video for students to watch and answers for them to complete to test their ability to comprehend and apply.   Opposite this I will give an in class explanation of the topic to a different set of students and have them complete the same form to test their comprehension and ability to apply. Then I will compare the results and see what I have. 

So, here’s to building a digital presence and letting go of our schema which convinces us that students our incapable of learning without us watching over their shoulders.

A redbrickED study in collaboration with ENSENACONEXITO.BLOGSPOT.COM 

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