Archive | January, 2014

Flipped MFL lessons

12 Jan

Having read quite a few tweets and blogs (and even this ebook) about flipped learning and having had a short training session on the concept by a colleague (@twentspin) at school I became convinced that this was a more effective way of teaching and set about creating my own flipped learning lessons. With every new thing that I try in the classroom I chose to use it with one class to start off with so that I didn’t become overwhelmed and I could make errors without it affecting too many pupils. The aim, of course, will be to roll this out to other classes when I’m more confident with the technology and how the lessons should be presented.

At a recent training course looking at using iPads in the classroom by @joedale I was told about the Explain Everything app by @njdixpin who assured me that it was well worth the £1.99 fee. He couldn’t have been more right. It is such a powerful tool and it does everything I want it to do. I’m not going to go into everything it does as there’s plenty of information out there in blogs and on YouTube about Explain Everything. Suffice to say, I would recommend it to anyone looking to implement the flipped model.

So with the technology ready I set about producing my first flipped video. In the previous lesson with my Year 10 GCSE class I had taken them to the computer room to type up a piece of work on the holiday topic they had been studying. Of course, rather than use all of the structures and vocabulary they had in their books, much to my annoyance, many of them went straight for Google Translate. When I caught them using it I told them they could only use wordreference.com as an online dictionary. So they logged on to wordreference.com and tried to type long sentences into the search bar! It was clear they had no idea how to use the site (and why should they if they’ve never been taught how to use it?). I decided a video on how to use wordreference.com would be a good start for my flipped lesson. I set about creating the video using Explain Everything. I uploaded the video to YouTube and also to our VLE as YouTube is blocked for pupils at school. The video was too long for one YouTube post so I cut it in half using iMovie. A tip for uploading to YouTube – don’t export to YouTube in the Explain Everything app as it takes an age and failed on me. It was a lot quicker for me to export to camera roll and then upload to YouTube from the camera roll.

For the first lesson, I decided to go against all the principles of flipped learning and get the pupils to watch the video in the lesson rather than for homework before the lesson. The main reasons for this were to check that the technology worked so that I didn’t have the ‘I couldn’t download the video’ excuse. Also, I wanted to see how pupils interacted with the video. I wanted to make sure they were actively taking notes as they went along rather than passively watching the video. Finally, I wanted to be there to answer any questions they had straight away so that next time, when they do it for homework they have no excuses and are all confident with what they are doing.

The pupils all engaged really well with the video. I asked them to reflect in their books what they thought about this way of learning and they were all very positive about it. Many commented that it allowed them to learn at their own pace. I was surprised at just how positive they were. The video was 26 minutes long (I can go on sometimes! A bit like this post I suppose), which on reflection was too long. By the time they paused the video to write notes and complete the Google form at the end it had taken the full hour long lesson. Future videos will have to be a lot shorter. I think 10 minutes is the optimum time, 15 minutes maximum.

I have created the next video even though they are not going to see it until the end of Jan (they are currently doing controlled assessments). They will watch the video for homework and in the lesson we will do lots of activities where pupils can practice their pronunciation and I can go around supporting and advising pupils. The 11 minute video will allow pupils to work for 11 minutes more in the lesson, reducing the amount of teacher talk in the lesson and allowing more time for pupils to be actively working on improving their skills.  I chose to have the front facing camera on for this video as it allows the pupil to see how our mouth moves, which is really important for learning the pronunciation of words. Although I am annoyed that the video is out of sync with the audio. This only happened once I had exported the video which is rather annoying. I’m not sure why it happened.

The technology has made flipped learning possible and I’m excited to continue to use Explain Everything to flip my lessons. All future videos will be available via my YouTube channel and I’ll tweet them as well.