‘Outstanding’ MFL lesson using technology and flipped learning.

9 Feb

On Monday I was observed by my Head of Faculty as part of my performance management. I have recently discovered flipped learning and have become convinced that this is an excellent way of imparting knowledge and improving pupils’ understanding of key concepts. I decided to test one of these flipped lessons out in an observation. I also decided to use the computer room for this lesson to see how I could use technology to speed up the learning process and engage my learners. I have heard a lot about the SAMR model and will refer to this in my post, although I’m not 100% confident at my ability to link the use of technology to this model yet.

The post is rather long so feel free to skip to the conclusion at the end!

The class was mixed ability year 11 group (grades ranging from A* to E) and we had had one previous lesson on the environment topic. The lesson actually started the week before when I set pupils their flipped learning homework.

Here is the lesson plan: 03 – 02 -14

And here is the instructions that I emailed to pupils: Instructions to pupils

Using the Explain Everything app on my iPad I set about explaining the imperative mood to pupils. On the SAMR model this is clearly a redefinition of a task. It would never have been possible for me teach a grammatical concept in this much detail before as a piece of homework  and without the technology to help me. I printed out a load of QR codes which linked to the video that I had uploaded to YouTube and also emailed the link to all pupils.

I set up a Google Form which formed the first part of my assessment of their learning. Without this piece of technology I would never have been able to assess their understanding before they entered the classroom so another example of using technology to redefine the task. I used Twitter (a class account) to remind pupils that had not completed the homework the day before that their piece of homework was still outstanding. This type of communication (direct to their mobile phones as a push notification) on a weekend would have been inconceivable even a few years ago. In total 2 pupils were absent when the homework was set and 3 did not complete the homework. They spent the first 15 minutes of the lesson completing the homework instead and were set extra homework to complete that would not been able to complete in class as a result.

The flipped aspect helped the lesson in two main ways. Firstly it cut down on the amount of teacher talk in the lesson. I did not have to stand at the front and spend 20 minutes explaining the grammar to pupils and therefore allowed them more time in lessons to gain understanding through exploration, collaboration and discovery. The flipped aspect also improved the feedback I gave to pupils which was noted on my feedback form. Having analysed the Google Form before the lesson began, the first 7 minutes of the lesson involved me sitting down individually with a couple of students and explaining in detail any misconceptions or errors that had occurred. The observer noted that this assessment of learning and the feedback given to these students helped significantly in her awarding of an outstanding grade in ‘assessment for learning’ and ‘feedback’ areas on the observation form.

During the lesson pupils used quizlet.com to learn 15 new verbs on the environment topic that they had not seen before. They spent 15 minutes learning the verbs and I believe that the technology was used to augment the learning that took place. Pupils were able to learn the vocabulary at their own pace, pausing and repeating as they pleased and were able to practise and test their knowledge quicker than in a traditional classroom if 15 new items of vocabulary were to be introduced. In keeping with the idea of discovery and collaboration, I asked pupils to think about vocabulary that would be associated with the environment topic and look up the Spanish using wordreference.com. They were then asked to write the English and Spanish on to a wall on padlet.com. After the lesson I checked the terms they had come up with, corrected any mistakes and printed it out for them to stick into their exercise books. They will then have a quick vocabulary test on these words next week but hopefully they will appreciate that this vocab test was set using words they had created and there will be a ‘that’s my word’ sense of satisfaction when they hear their words being read out. Of course I could have done this task using a dictionary and a piece of sugar paper so the technology was merely used a substitute for this activity.

Then came a series of comprehension activities and pupils could choose which one they wanted to complete. Two of the tasks came from the OCR GCSE textbook and were given rough GCSE grades. Pupils used their target grades to select which one they opted for. Two of the activities required no technology as one was a matching up activity using statements and pictures and the other was a print out of a section of a past paper on the environment topic which featured on the foundation/higher reading paper crossover. I did ask pupils completing the match up to take a photo using my iPad so that I could later assess their work.

photo (1)

The final task was a listening task, where pupils had to match what they heard to the statements. I uploaded the listening file to our VLE which pupils downloaded and listened to via headphones. I believe this is a redefinition of the task as it would be impossible for all learners to access one listening piece at either different times (not me pushing play on a cassette player and everyone listening at the same time) or at the same time (putting a cassette player in the corner and having one person use it at one time).

The final task was more of an extension if pupils had finished all the previous tasks and a few of my more able pupils got on to this task. The task was differentiated by outcome and used higher order thinking skills getting pupils to create a poster giving instructions using the imperative mood. I did something similar with another group and gave them to the choice to create a poster, a video campaign or a series of vines. However I found that they spent too much time deciding which one to do and too long focusing on how it would look and ended up with only one slogan in Spanish of 3-5 words. This would not represent outstanding progress and so this time I made it clear that pupils had to produce the Spanish before they started their posters.

Finally I used the online tool socrative.com to assess the learning that had taken place. This allowed all pupils to answer a series of questions that I had prepared in advance. It then sent me a report via email and I was quickly able to assess pupils’ understanding. Of course I could have printed the questions out and got pupils to write the answer in their books, however the report allowed me to quickly assess the learning that had taken place and I was able to use the information to form the basis of the starter for the next lesson. I therefore believe that the quick ability (5 mins after the lesson) to see all of the pupils answers to my questions is an augmentation on the traditional format highlighted above.

To conclude, here are the different criteria upon which I was assessed and how I believe the technology used helped to arrive at the judgements.

Feedback – outstanding. The Google Form allowed me to provide individual feedback at the very start of the lesson. The fact that there was almost no teacher talk meant that I could circulate the room for the whole lesson asking questions and giving feedback to pupils. The observer also checked exercise books and asked pupils about the amount and quality of feedback received to give a longer term overview.

Assessment for learning – outstanding. There were numerous opportunities for me to assess the learning that had taken place and technology was used to help me with this. Firstly the Google Form allowed me to assess pupils’ understanding of the video I had produced using Explain Everything. Taking pictures using the iPads allowed me to check whether pupils had understood the vocabulary and socrative allowed me to quickly assess pupils understanding of the whole lesson (and the flipped video).

Behaviour and engagement – outstanding. To be fair the vast majority of this work has taken place over the last year and half, by building relationships, setting and maintaining expectations etc. However I felt the technology helped engage pupils, the choice of activities gave a sense of ownership to the tasks and the flipped learning aspect reduced the amount of teacher talk significantly and therefore the chance for pupils to get ‘bored’. The sheer number of activities and the extension tasks also meant that pupils didn’t have any opportunity to have nothing to do which can lead to behaviour problems.

Differentiation – outstanding. I didn’t do a lot of work here. Some of the tasks were differentiated by outcome but making it explicitly clear to the pupils what was required for certain grades gave pupils something to work for and a clear success criteria. By providing a range of activities and grading the difficulty using GCSE grades, pupils had a clear understanding of what activity to choose and almost all selected the activity that suited their need. The independent style of the lesson (allowed through the flipped learning) meant that pupils could work at their own pace which was commented upon as being a contributing factor to the awarding of outstanding in this aspect.

Progress – good. This area was given a good as the feedback from socrative highlighted that a fair number of the least able pupils were not able to correctly put a sentence together using the imperative and we both felt that this was because they were too slow when working through exercises and there was no real pressure on them to complete tasks quickly (obviously in contrast to the idea of giving them time to move along at their own pace which helped on the differentiation part). Therefore they did not get enough time to really practice and embed their understanding. Setting time limits on activities may have given a greater sense of urgency and forced pupils to really focus rather than take a ‘back seat’.  We had a discussion as to whether the observer could award the lesson an overall rating of outstanding if they didn’t feel that progress was outstanding but we came to the conclusion that because all of the other criteria were outstanding and that a good proportion of pupils (but not ‘almost all’) had made outstanding progress they were able to do this.

I strongly believe that the flipped aspect and the technology used allowed this to be an outstanding lesson and it would be very difficult for this much knowledge to be imparted to the pupils and for them to complete so many activities without either the flipped aspect or the technologies.


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