Sometimes I find it amazing how people and things from the past make their way back to the present. I definitely would never have believed that if I traveled back in time to different versions of my past self that I would tell them about how I went to a park to catch Pokemon I dreamed of finding 20 years ago, or that I watched a new Star Wars movie that felt as fun and captivating as the originals.
This same thing happened to me this week while I was exploring the idea flipping my classroom. The more that I read and listened to how a teacher’s role in the classroom is changing, the more I was brought back to my senior year at Saint Joseph’s University. I had a professor in my teaching methods for foreign languages class who constantly told us students that we have to become guides on the side, not the sage on the stage. Now, while at the time I found it a bit hokey, it’s amazing how that idea gets more and more true with every passing year, and I feel like a flipped classroom may be the embodiment of that phrase: if the students view the instruction/notes on videos at home, then we can allow the students to show what they know with our help and we can then guide/tailor our classes to what they need, giving them an even better learning experience than before.
While I reminisced about professors of old, I also quickly came to realize that Latin (or any language, really) is a subject that is perfect for flipping: if the students watched videos on grammar at home, then we could have more time translating in class, and since translating is the best way for students to get hands-on with the Latin language I think there is a chance it could really improve my class. To learn more, however, I hopped down the #flipclass rabbit hole and created a Flipped Class Flipboard with my findings. (note: I’ve found it’s easier to use the comments on flipboard than the captions to tag/explain, so check out the comments section of each article for my thoughts!)
In terms of getting started in a flipped classroom, I found Jon Bergmann and Cheryl Morris to be two awesome resources for anyone looking to start flipping their class. The post “So you want to flip your class…” on Cheryl’s site made the idea of flipping a class exciting and reduced a lot of early anxieties about the idea, and with FlipCon happening this very week I have enjoyed reading Cheryl’s questions and answers during live chats via #flipclass. In addtion, Jon posted a great article on things to do in the summer to prep for flipping a class, conveniently published this summer! I also enjoyed a few articles by Barbi Honeycutt who gave advice and suggestions on what to do when students aren’t so enthused about Flipping as the rest of the class.
With the basics covered, I then tried to dig into any Latin-specific flipping ideas. Whereas my cup runneth over before, it runneth pretty low now. I found some resources, but I found them to be a little too complicated for how I see flipping (videos covering way too much in one sitting, something that can kill a Latin student brain quickly). The one person I would love to learn more from would be Ben Johnson, who runs the website Latin Tutorial. Ben’s videos are short and comprehensive. While I feel they can be a little dry at times I could also see them being an excellent backup resource in a flipped Latin classroom or possibly the resource for a Latin teacher who wants to flip but may not have the time and resources of others.
With all that being said, I decided to try to take the plunge myself. I now present to you a flipped Latin video by Mr. Hagan himself:
The Reviews are In…
I quite enjoyed making this video. I decided to make something that I could use within my first week of Latin with my seventh graders. The first chapter in their book talks about parts of speech, so I wanted to make a video of what is pretty much the notes for that same chapter.
There was something that I noticed immediately: the note-taking time of this vs. a normal class is at least cut by 75%. Normally this would take about 20 minutes of time in class: asking/answering questions, having everyone open up their notebook/getting paper, etc. Instead, I have it clean cut in four minutes that the students could watch five times over if they wanted to to make sure they understood everything. What amazed me even more is that I covered the same amount of material in such a shorter span and had a fun and relatively easy experience at the same time!
If I were to go deeper into classroom flipping, however, I think that I would want learn more about the video creation process itself. I would love to learn how to use a screencasting tool so that I could write notes and diagram as I go; as Latin moves along the grammar gets more and more complicated, so I think I would need more of a visual aide than simply my iPhone screen.
Overall though, I definitely could see benefits to flipping my Latin classroom. As I make the videos for each chapter I have them for life, and instead of handing out makeup notes I could just tell them to check the youtube page. In eighth grade that means I could dedicate so much more time to the stories in our book: because of the pace of the curriculum and how certain chapters have downright nasty notes I don’t get to translate every story with my students. In a flipped class environment, though, we could read so much more and have time to actually discuss it instead of having activities that stay in the “if we have time” category. In addition, the amount of hands-on Latin experience my students get would grow immensely, which I think would really strengthen the class as a whole while encouraging more students to continue with Latin past the high school requirement.
How is that going to have a sequel?
I do see some issues, though. As I mentioned Latin grammar can get very complex the farther you go, so I would be worried that four minute videos become 10 or 15, even with screencast technology. On top of that, in my school languages are viewed as electives, which means the core classes come first, a view shared by students and sadly more parents than you’d think. While I know Barbi Honeycutt had some solid ideas on how to deal with situations where students don’t watch or don’t want to watch videos, I would still be nervous about where my class falls on the homework totem pole. I know some folks argue that allow students to watch videos in class is an option, but I agree more with Andrew Swan who thinks a more traditional flip is the way to go.
Despite all of this, however, I feel like there is still a lot of merit to flipping a language class. I think I’d find some of my issues would resolve/have solutions as I gain more experience (not to mention the giant safety net I’d have thanks to #flipclass), and the idea of being able to read whole stories on the Trojan War with my class and discussing the characters within sounds like it opens up a new world of possibilities. While I may not go all in immediately, flipping my class has definitely risen up the charts of possible ideas for 2016-2017.
What do you guys think? How would flipping a class work in your subject? What resources have you found helpful? Do you have any other concerns? Has anyone tried flipping their class before? Let me know in the comments below!