Flipping the students

I have been experimenting with my students to see if we can save time having the students use a variation of the theme ‘flipping the classroom’. Forced by group size to think of an alternative way to have them practise peer teaching (and having used mini classes within one class quite successfully before), I suggested that the students would this time record peer teaching videos  (teaching vocabulary), which we could next watch and evaluate together in class. As the students would upload the videos on the school’s video channel, I would be able to play each video relatively quickly, compared to switching from memory stick to mailbox to dropbox, etc.

The students could choose between a demonstration of a five minute activity that the class would do while watching the video (max. 5 min.) or a 3.5 min. instruction video in which they would explain the activity to the spectators. I showed some examples of instruction videos on You Tube and my own example of a five minute activity made using brainshark (slides with pictures of words with a short oral description – the students had to guess the corrrect English words).

We have seen the first videos by now and I am actually really proud of the results. I was really lucky with a first pair of students who volunteered to make a video early on, which turned out to be a very creative and inspiring clip for the rest of class. By now we have seen half of the videos and most groups have come up with a combination of instruction and demonstration, where one group actually acted out a classroom activity with some volunteers and added a final blooper bonus track.

Great fun to watch, plenty of things to evaluate and not the least important: having the students get out of their comfort zones and demonstrating that teaching is also very much about improvising and learning, while leaning back as a teacher and enjoying their learning experience. Both the experimenting and relaxed observation are what makes teaching so satisfying for me.