--Originally published at Flipping my Spanish Classroom
With the class time I have gained since switching to the flipped class, I am able to better meet the needs of all of my students. Before the flipped class, I would stand at the front of the class and lecture, then have students practice, then go over work and lecture some more. What I found was that I had three types of students in my class - the "Got It" which was about 30%, the "Almost There" which usually was about 50%, and the "Never going to get it" which was about 20%.
Each of these groups present their own problems when lecturing to an entire class. The "Got It" kids often get bored and tune out as you try to help the "Almost There" group understand the material. The "Never going to get it" kids then start to feel hopeless because now you have explained a concept multiple times and they still don't understand. So this group will pretend to understand so they don't have to ask questions and put themselves on the spot. I just wasn't able to find a way to meet the needs of all of the students without some students being bored or frustrated. That is why I wanted to try flipped class - I needed to find a way to reach all of my students.
When I flipped my class, I was able to move the majority of the "lecture" to video. This way students could take as long as they needed to take notes. No one missed something because we had moved on and they were afraid to ask to go back or have something repeated. This meant that each student ended up with the same base of knowledge to work from when we started applying the lecture to the classroom activities.
Then, by changing the structure of my class time to allow every student an opportunity to work on assignments in a more self-paced manner over the course of a week, I found that students worked at different paces on different types of assignments. Some students were great readers, but struggled with listening. Others could write with ease, but couldn't put a sentence together in a conversation. So, by making classwork assignments assigned in a weekly time frame, rather than on a day-by-day basis, students were able to allocate their time across all of the activities and amazingly were finishing the week pretty much all in the same place. Students that needed to read a passage five times to gain the comprehension necessary could do so because they only had to do a listening selection one time to get the gist. This structure gave students a bit more freedom with their class time and I really saw an improvement in their comprehension of all of the modes of communication for all of the students.
When the students could work individually (or in small groups) on tasks, I was able to better monitor students as they worked which enabled me to be able to see errors students make BEFORE they had made the same errors repeatedly. This also allowed me to do mini-lessons on an ongoing basis to address students needs, as well as able to give students the consistent encouragement that they need to be able to have to confidence needed to keep trying.
Additionally, I have been able to use reading to be able to help students of different abilities all continue to improve. I love being able to work with students as they read and the make the connections with everything we have been learning and continue to make gains not only in their language proficiency but in their self-confidence.
This year I am working on incorporating more Google Forms to help students get the additional help they need when working on classroom tasks so I can better meet the needs of each and every student. With Google Forms, I am able to give remedial instruction right away to students as they are working on formative classwork which (so far) allows them to more quickly realize and correct mistakes. I have just begun to work with this, but so far the results have been promising.
Overall the flipped class enables me to focus on the individual students. Although I still struggle to find the time to have the individual conferences I would like to have with students on a quarterly basis, I have found more and more ways to help reach each student at their level and keep them engaged in class and language learning. Best of all, I see way more smiles now than the frustrated sighs I saw when I began teaching. ;)