Hsilgne: Flipped Instruction in the English Classroom
Flipped instruction is everywhere these days… but how does that translate into the English classroom? When I first learned about flipped instruction, I assumed that it was a natural fit for content-heavy courses like science and history, but I struggled to make the flip work in my English course, which centers on skills.
After working to incorporate flipped instruction for a few months in my English courses, the flip works in three areas:
This is the most intuitive and well-documented function of the flip. In the English classroom, it most obviously means vocabulary, lit terms and grammatical concepts, as above. But, it can also mean front-loading activities, like an introduction to a text or unit, or a means to provide materials for synthesis.
Short videos work well for modeling discrete writing skills – using a killer hook, structuring a counter-argument, attacking the prompt – you get the idea. These videos allow students to see me demonstrate a particular skill, and to revisit it as often as necessary. Better yet, these videos serve double-duty when I can link to them as comments in writing feedback for students, providing them with an instant, individualized lesson.
And, the flip works equally well for modeling reading skills. Here, students learn the TPCASTT techinque for analyzing a poem. In another video, students learn how to analyze literature through a critical lens. I can imagine future videos about reading nonfiction texts, satire, or analyzing rhetoric.
Even as a veteran teacher, I still struggle to provide individualized writing instruction. So, using a series of videos, grouping students to receive that feedback, and holding students accountable for integrating those revisions, allows me to achieve individualized results, even in a large class. After grading a class set of essays, I’ll often make a few quick videos to help students with weak areas of their writing, and group students up to work together on those revisions.
What makes it all work?
What makes it all work is keeping students accountable for the materials. In all cases, I ask students to keep notes in their Writing Notebook. Additionally, for most videos, students answer a question or a short prompt at the completion of the video, so they can practice their new skill in advance of class. Finally, I follow up with students in class to check for understanding (and occasionally reteach), using formative assessment tools like Socrative, online discussions, or partner work.
And what do the students think? Unsolicited, in the anonymous class-check ins I give bi-weekly, students report:
I have liked the Vocabulary videos.
Having and taking notes on the mini lesson videos really has helped me understand the different topics that we are learning.
And what surprised me most is that students have picked up on all the shifts that flipped instruction has allowed us to make in the classroom, towards doing. They report that what they like best about our class:
I liked that we work a lot with our classmates.
That it is inclusive and give good feed back on what to do better or what we can work on.
I like starting essays in class and finishing them at home so we get to know the layout and get inspiration.