Flipping The Language classes: Group Space Activities

After working outside of class to deepen their understanding and to further their language development, the students are ready to apply and extend their viewing experience by engaging in creative, dynamic activities, designed as in-class workshops.( Khalid Fethi and Helaine Marshall, 2018). The first most popular lesson stage is called SHAC that stands for Share, Help, Ask and Comment ( Khalid Fethi and Helaine Marshall, 2018). It is of paramount importance to start with an activity that looks like an informal café talk, in which the students share their out of class experience. In a friendly atmosphere, they conduct their casual discussion whose subject is not limited to the lesson content but also the various unexpected challenges they encountered while answering: spontaneously, they switch from serious description to telling anecdotes or sharing facts. The rationale of the SHAC stage is letting the students build their self-confidence while “being themselves” and getting more engaged in oral fluid discussions.

The more confident they feel, the gutsier they become to impart fluently what and how they have learned. The students, in groups of five, four and then three, redo the same task: telling and retelling which result in using and re-using the target vocabulary and honing the spontaneous interaction. Equally important, this stage represents the bedrock of non-cognitive skill building. As the students work in varying groups, they boost the socio-emotional skills along with three all-inclusive leadership ones: Communication, collaboration and critical thinking. The skills can be developed implicitly and instinctively. The instructor does not need to declare the skill building goals of the SHAC beforehand lest the students’ interaction becomes meretricious and lack the beauty of spontaneity and improvisation.

Smart questions:

As mentioned earlier, the students are requested to prepare two smart questions relevant to the lesson content. When in class, in cooperative groups of four led by a moderator, the discussion lasts for 7 to 10 minutes. They show a great interest in listening to each other’s cut and thrust. They are convinced that the smart question activity helps building the following skills:

  1. Mutual respect
  2. Group moderation
  3. Active listening
  4. Valuing the peers’ opinions and values
  5. Role-taking
  6. Note-taking
  7. Deep thinking
  8. Analysis and evaluation
  9. Data and knowledge sharing

Similarly to the SHAC stage, Smart question activity intends to strengthen the students’ character and foster his socio-emotional skills.

Vocabulary Feedback:

The teacher hands in one of the selected students’ answers. We generally choose the one with the least number of mistakes, and avoid a 100% correct, to give the opportunity to the students to reflect, assess and evaluate their peer’s work. At this stage, we adopt the CSC model that stands for checking, sharing and correcting.

This is followed by the teacher’s language feedback time. Apart from highlighting the word building, synonyms and antonyms, he points out some ambiguities and pronunciation errors.  Later, the students, in pairs or in very small groups, move to the practice time. After every single activity, we keep the get-up-and-go CSC model. Most of the time the music on and the students move freely from a team to another and from a spot to a board.

This stage is usually followed by advanced practice while we adopt the blended learning approach. Online, the students complete a number of activities that the teachers either create or select.

From Comprehension to critical thinking:

I firmly believe that the bedrock of creative thinking is critical thinking. “The skills in Critical Thinking (CT) are not developed unplanned. Those skills can be taught and practiced as part of an Extensive Reading (ER) program.” (N. Husna,2016). Nevertheless, auditory learning should not be ignored. Hence, the instructor should provide well-selected passages and videos that tackle the same subject but from different perspectives. This will help the students:

  1. Learn how to select the appropriate material
  2. Analyze and evaluate the data
  3. Share their deduction in a very rational way.
  4. Write strong argumentative essays based on their attitudes.

At this stage, the students are engaged in the following activities:

  1. Public speaking and oral presentations ( If online, the students record their videos using Flipgrid – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLzX13jw7bw&t=179s -)
  2. In-class debates
  3. Blog / Forum discussions
  4. Video reports
  5. Meetings with experts.

From critical thinking to creative thinking:

Creative thinking should complement critical thinking. If the former stage was dedicated to problem finding, in the latter the students are supposed to suggest feasible solutions through a number of activities:

  1. Creative fluency: In an activity that looks like brainstorming, the students, in groups, suggest a number of solutions in a short time. What matters is the quantity, not the quality.
  • Creative flexibility: The students categorize their generated solutions into specific groups. These can be socio-emotional, educational or political… Then, each team decides to work on one category and then post it on Padlet, if they are working online or on small boards if they are in class.
  1. Originality and elaboration: It is a Project-Based stage. The different teams turn their ideas into feasible and practical projects that they present in videos using Flipgrid as an example.
  2. From teamwork to network: The teacher selects the best moments in the class essays and we compile them into an article that we share on the school website.

To conclude, what is impossible or at least hard to achieve in the traditional classes becomes feasible in the flipped ones. Flipped Learning helps going further horizontally and vertically in a highly interactive atmosphere, where the chairs are not chains and the class has no borders. Flipped Learning is an all- inclusive approach: we create an inclusive environment in or out of class and our lessons are meticulously planned to balance between the academic learning and soft skill building.

References:

·       Kurshan, B. (2017). Teaching 21st Century Skills For 21st Century Success Requires An Ecosystem Approach. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/barbarakurshan/2017/07/18/teaching-21st-century-skills-for-21st-century-success-requires-an-ecosystem-approach/
·       Kimberly A. (2019). Retrieved from: https://www.thebalance.com/structural-unemployment-3306202
·        Laboissiere, M. and Mourshed, M (2017) Closing the skills gap: Creating workforce-development programs that work for everyone. Retrieved from: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/social-sector/our-insights/closing-the-skills-gap-creating-workforce-development-programs-that-work-for-everyone
·       World Economic Forum: http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/chapter-1-the-future-of-jobs-and-skills/#view/fn-1
·       Callahan, J. L., Whitener, J. K., & Sandlin, J. A. (2007). The art of creating leaders: Popular Culture of Artifacts as pathways for development. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 9 (2), 146-165
·       Fethi,K., & Marshall, H. (2018). Flipping movies for Dynamic Engagement. Innovations in Flipping the Language Classroom, theories and Practices. Mehring, J. & Leis, A.: Springer.
·       Ibid
  • Drapeau, P. (2014). Sparking Student Creativity: Practical ways to promote innovative thinking and problem solving. ASCD
·       Bergmann, J. (2017). Solving the Homework Problem by Flipping the Learning. (ASCD book, 2017)
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Khalid FETHI
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