Unterricht im Kontext der Digitalität

The Flipped Classroom

What do YOU remember?
Before starting to read this post, you should think about your schooldays. What do you remember most? The building? A teacher, or rather your classmates?
When thinking about these days you probably do not remember the lessons but rather other activities. The most interesting experiences, those that stay in our minds for decades, happened probably outside of the classroom. This may mean a trip to an amazing landscape or a great city. It could be the perfect walk home after school together with a girl or a boy you liked. So, a memorable situation in our life as a student in school does not have to be related to the activities in the classroom but still, so I guess, some lessons have made their way into our memory. This could be an experiment in chemistry or a project you did in History. The memorable things are mostly the things we were given the opportunity to participate in. Maybe we do not remember the usual teacher-pupil relation but rather the lessons we could actively take part in. Do not get me wrong. I know for most of the German pupils spending time with their friends during the breaks is what is most important. The least important are probably the homework. But what would pupils think, if there was a method to abolish homework completely? A method that also allows the pupils to be the active part in class. Let me introduce you to:

The Flipped Classroom!
The Flipped Classroom is a progressive method which aims at improving the way of learning things at school. It switches what we are used to do in class with what we are used to do at home. Do not worry the teachers are not going to attempt home invasions. They will still wait for the student in the classroom, though. The concept simply intends to switch the kind of work which is done at home or in class. The pupils should get the input concerning a topic at home. In order to do so the pupils are asked to use the internet. The teacher can either upload lectures or explanations on his own, or tell the students to find material on their own.

Using the internet to learn something while homework is getting abolished? This must be a joke.
There have been various ways of teaching and educating young men and women – from the Greek Cities to Rome and from medieval Paris to modern New York. Most of these educational forms were not able to give their students the opportunity to obtain nearly any piece of information on their own (and obviously the teachers could not do this neither). Now the first generation could have this opportunity. One could argue, the internet contained terrible dangers for young students. There are not only illegal websites influencing pupils badly but, especially when talking about the search for knowledge, many opportunities to be misinformed. In order to use the internet properly students just as teachers have to be educated. But when this education has reached a certain stadium the internet can finally be used in class, and opportunities (like the Flipped Classroom of course) pop up!

How to use the method concerning grammar
This post should not only present the flipped classroom but also show the specific use of the flipped classroom teaching grammar to pupils in the sixth grade. You can find lots of information following this link to a YouTube-Video where the flipped classroom is explained using its own technique – an online video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=828eBNnaYGU
At first I would like to present the way the method works concerning grammar. According to Educause “the term(Flipped Classroom) is widely used to describe almost any class structure that provides prerecorded lectures followed by in-class exercises” which gives the teacher a lot of range for activities to come up with. The students can watch videos on the topic of simple past or present perfect at home and come to class prepared for the topic.
Traditional ways of education use the complementary: Homework. Homework are used to repeat and internalize what has been learned at school. Many students struggle to do their homework consequently, maybe also because of the little use they see in it. Of course they get checked in the next lesson, but very often the homework are not included in the lesson. They are a separate entity. In the flipped classroom the value of doing something at home is much greater. The pupils can inform themselves at home with little effort and work on the topic using hand-on activities in class. It may seem like even more work could be the result of the method. Of course a student could argue: “Learning at home and working at school? No, thank you!”. It depends on the teacher if this method is fun to the students or if it is not, this is almost at any point in school the case, but students who argue the one above should hold on for a second. If the teacher finds this method attractive, the results can be overwhelming. You could form groups of experts and inform other students about the topic you have prepared at home without losing valuable school time in order to obtain the knowledge. Due to the time saved there is also room for more group discussions and other rather active ways of teaching. The students become their own teachers while the teacher becomes an instructor how irects the work.

Could this method be attractive to teachers as well?
A relation between the students ‘Lebenswelt’ and a certain topic is essential in order to arouse attention and to channel the student’s interests. Especially when teaching grammar this may become a problem – even though it does not have to. The mere comprehension of a grammatical unit is not the only important thing concerning grammar but certainly an important one. At the same time this phase could be the most challenging and boring when done in class. If a student does not understand something he or she will not be able to fulfill later tasks properly. If the student does not raise his or her hand in order to indicate insufficient understanding chances to understand the unit later shrink. This is where a huge advantage of the flipped classroom becomes apparent. The input section can be stopped, repeated or even skipped according to the individual pupil. This means the teacher does not have to take good care of pace when explaining something, he can rather focus on the things pupils are able to accomplish in class. Like this a close relation between the student’s ‘Lebenswelt’ and the topic is possibile. This is not the only benefit we can derive from this method. The Flipped Classroom can help to strengthen several competences. For example students are supposed to acquire skills about participating in cultural life and should also practice dealing with online sources, both skills can easily be improved using the method.
The teacher should elect interesting ways of performing the knowledge acquired at home. Basically the teacher can choose between all sorts of different ways of learning, but with the advantage of having saved time due to the needlessness of delivering input to the class. They have already acquired the necessary knowledge at home and thus a input phase can be skipped. The entire lesson can be used in order to repeat and internalize the learned things. This is how the chance to deliver the important information to all of the students and to make it even more interesting. The students can also learn to educate each other. By giving different tasks about different topics, the students will come to class and find themselves in groups of experts knowing more about a topic than the rest of class. This is how every competence the students should obtain can be obtained easily. When the students should improve their “mündliche Kompetenzen” a different kind of task is to be used than when having to improve the “schriftliche Kompetenzen”.

So what is the catch?
Talking about the topic there are of course downsides as well. The teachers need to spend more time on planning, while the students may miss the “face-to-face lectures”. Furthermore, the teacher depends strongly on his students. If they do not support the method by not doing their part at home, the entire concept will not work and could result in chaos. It should also be mentioned not all students might have the same access to the internet or other kinds of modern media. The last a cautious teacher should want is to intensify social disparities.

In conclusion
All in all the method ‘Flipped Classroom’ transforms the complete process of learning. The students become the active part in class. They need to interact and the entire procedure becomes more active. There are some problems concerning the method but most of them should be avoidable if the teaching person takes good care of the preparation. The teacher can focus on directing the class. Looking at problems, helping the students when they struggle, but in general the teacher becomes more passive. This progressive method does not only help to give rather passive students the opportunity to participate in class, it also helps to improve the social skills of every class member, by giving them the chance to work together rather than presenting homework at the beginning of class and paying attention to what the teacher says afterwards.

This is a lesson plan using the idea of the flipped classroom:

The Flipped Classroom

Educause: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7081.pdf (24.05.2016)
Kernlehrplan: http://www.schulentwicklung.nrw.de/lehrplaene/upload/lehrplaene_download/gymnasium_g8/gym8_englisch.pdf (24.05.2016)