Monday, 25 November 2013

The first flipped lesson in MFL - Reflections

As part of our ongoing work with New Technologies for our School Improvement Group, members of our MFL dept at Wildern are experimenting with flipped learning. If you aren't entirely sure what Flipped Learning or FlippingYour Classroom is, see this video here or follow the #flippedclass #flippedlearning hashtags on Twitter. You may have seen me blog some time ago about wanting to start the flipped classroom this year - I had big plans as the Summer months left me with ambitions for the new school year, some of which I have been able to get my teeth into, others not so much!

Unfortunately I don't have a year 7 class on my timetable this year so it wasn't an option to embed the 'flipping' from the outset as I had first intended. Actually what I hadn't anticipated was quite how long it would take me to decide just who we would flip the learning with. I worked with Rhiannon and Javi in my department as we decided not to duplicate (or even triplicate, is that a word?) workload and we set about going back and forth deciding whether to flip with year 8, 9 or 10. Year 10 was ruled out due to the restrictive nature of Controlled Assessment - it just wasn't feasible to experiment at such an early stage in the term when pupils were due to start their first speaking task and it didn't seem fair to throw their learning up in to the air without knowing how it would pan out and risk losing their engagement as such a crucial time. Our year 9 scheme of work is quite unique with art modules, beauty modules and British Airways Language Flag Award assessment at the end of the year. Some of the units we are teaching are new to us this year, so again we thought it best to settle with the material first rather than start mixing up two things in one. That left us with year 8 - fortunately we all had a year 8 class studying Spanish and with different abilities so it would just be a case of differentiating our materials for our individual classes. 

We are currently studying a unit of work loosely based on Listos 1 Module of La Comida (food). We have so far covered basic food vocabulary as well as giving opinions so we decided to schedule in our flipped lesson in the context of buying fruit and vegetables at the greengrocers. We created our own video using a FlipCam, where we presented vocabulary and then demonstrated a mini role play taking place between customers and the greengrocer. This video can be seen here. It was quite simple to edit the video using iMovie on Mac so that we could add subtitles. We chose not to subtitle all of the speech - just the key vocab or key phrases we wanted to teach. The video was embedded in to a page on our school VLE (virtual learning environment) where students usually collect their homework from. In order to ensure pupils had actually watched the video and to help us set groups for the flipped lesson, we asked students to complete a Google doc. We also managed to embed this on the page too so that pupils could scroll down and complete the answers in the Google form immediately below the video they had watched and thus ensuring they didn't need to remember lots of links (and therefore forget them, meaning they weren't prepared for the lesson!).

When it came to the lesson itself, we had the results from the Google form to support group setting. We divided pupils into four groups - Purple if they hadn't completed the homework, then Red, Amber or Green depending on how well they appeared to have understood the material from the video. The activities they completed were as per this lesson plan:

As a three, we reflected on the lesson immediately after. Rhiannon had a dual language accelerated set and the initial feedback was that her class really were on board with the lesson and went with it, feeding back that they enjoyed the task and as a teacher Rhiannon commented that it ran very smoothly. She had no Red group - the pupils in her class coped well with the stimulus video material so perhaps next time we will think about whether to subtitle or not, or perhaps run two versions of the video. My class were the set below - mid to high ability pupils - and seemed to engage well with the task. There was no doubt that seeing their teachers on film was enjoyable and motivating as a homework task. I felt like my class required a little more micro-managing; pupils were on different tasks at different times as we had anticipated but to keep this working either needed more intervention from me or perhaps none at all. Javi felt the same from his class and with his lower ability set they didn't get on to the final written aspect of the task. We are hoping that as pupils become more familiar with the concept they will start to develop independence which will see them through the running of the lesson and ensure as teachers we can be used as facilitators to the learning taking place. I did notice there was far less off task behaviour or opportunities for it to take place - there was no point in playing the class clown or trying to distract other people as they were all doing something completely different anyway.

We are now setting about introducing a second flipped learning lesson next week, looking at using the future tense to say what you are going to eat and drink. We welcome any comments or questions!


  1. Well done you three!! I bet the students loved seeing you in action! ;)

  2. they did Diana! and this is only the beginning. We learnt lots of things that did work but also things that didn't work. Now we are planning our second lesson trying not to make the same mistakes again