How to Refresh Your Spanish Classroom with Flipped Teaching

Old-school. Vintage. Antiquated. Outdated.

What do those terms have in common?

You don’t want them to describe your Spanish teaching methods.

They all refer to something that is past its prime, whether it be in a positive connotation like “vintage clothing,” or a negative one, like an “outdated wardrobe.” One way to prevent this from happening is to incorporate modern teaching styles and, in the case of flipped teaching, modern technology, into the classroom.

How to Refresh Your Spanish Classroom with Flipped Teaching

What’s Flipped Teaching?

Thanks to Farrah Fawcett, you’re most likely familiar with the flipped hairstyle. Home improvement TV has likely made “flipping houses” part of your vocabulary, too. Yet perhaps you haven’t yet heard of “flipped teaching.”

So, what is it exactly, and what’s all the fuss about?

Flipped teaching is a modern teaching method that, as the name suggests, “flips” the traditional model of teaching. That is to say, it involves your students watching lectures and learning class material at home, outside of school hours, when they generally did homework as part of the traditional class model.

What are the benefits of flipped teaching?

There are many benefits to “flipping” your classroom.

Student accountability. Because it makes your students responsible for learning the lecture material outside of class, it therefore makes them accountable. This will increase your students’ senses of personal responsibility.

Personalized learning. Since students dictate what they do and don’t learn at home, on their own, you’ll be helping them to create a more personalized learning experience overall. The ways they’ll learn will be tailor-made to their preferred learning styles. They can work at their own paces, without having to be wrapped up in the progress their classmates are making.

More valuable teacher time. Flipping your classroom allows you to dedicate your time as a teacher to students’ questions and to helping them understand the material they learned watching your lectures at home. When they have time at home to consider what concepts they grasp and what they need help with, they’re more likely to come to class prepared with questions.

Minimal distractions to learning. The school environment is important as it gives students a place to socialize and visit their buddies. However, socialization at school has its ups and downs, as students often distract each other in the classroom during traditional lectures. When they watch lessons as video lectures at home, they’re not as likely to be distracted by a buddy passing them a note or otherwise goofing around. Also, they can replay sections of the video that are unclear to them the first time around.

Thorough learning. In traditional teaching, after lecturing the students, teachers often ask if they have questions and are greeted by metaphorical crickets chirping. This lack of questions often stems from students simply not having time to think about what they didn’t understand. The flipped method allows them to watch the video and then brainstorm questions for the following class. Having prepared students will greatly decrease time wasted while students ponder questions in silence.

Practice using reference materials. Flipped teaching is beneficial for Spanish class in particular because it gives your students more time at home to use dictionaries and look up words they didn’t know. They’ll need to interact with key reference materials and textbooks, thus teaching themselves how to seek out information for themselves. Plus, they can come to class prepared and already knowing new Spanish vocabulary.

No excuses. Students can no longer use the flu, a cold or other sicknesses leaving them bed-bound as an excuse to skip out on lectures. In the past, absent students would have to miss out and often fell behind as a result. With the flipped teaching method, students can still watch lectures and learn the class materials even while under the weather at home. Students will just LOVE this! Instead of watching mindless cartoons, they get to watch Spanish lectures! Okay, okay, maybe they won’t be super thrilled at the time, but they’ll be thankful later when they don’t feel overwhelmed rushing to catch up.

What does a flipped lesson look like?

Yo soy Jim. A mi me gusta patinar con mis amigos.

Learning to introduce yourself in Spanish is one of the first things you likely did in class. Let’s go through an example of a flipped lesson plan by pretending we’d like to create a class around this topic.

Record. The first step in creating your flipped lesson is to film your video lecture. You can do so with the built-in camera of your computer or with one that your school can provide. Many websites can help you create video lectures for a flipped classroom, including Alchemy SmartBinder. This site also has great tips for posting video lectures.

During your video lecture, instruct students how to introduce themselves in Spanish using key phrases like yo soy, yo tengo and a mi me gusta. This lesson should include everything that you’d tell your students during a traditional lecture-style class.

Upload. Post the video via your school’s public website to enable your students to view it. If your school doesn’t have a website onto which you can post the video, you can post it on YouTube, upload it to your personal teacher site or add it to your blog if you have one. One way to distribute the video link easily is to send your students a link to the video.

Review. In the following class, begin the lesson by asking your students if they had any questions while watching the video lecture or if there’s any material which they’d like clarified.

During class hours have the students compose their self-introductions and present them to the rest of the class. This can be done in groups or individually. While they work on their project, spend the class walking amongst them and asking if they have questions about the material. This allows you to give your attention to the students who may not have grasped the material as well as others to ensure they understand the new concepts.

Flipped teaching is an ideal example of cooperative learning as it encourages students to work together during class hours and focus on individual learning outside of class. Encourage the students who best understood the video lecture material to act as teachers and leaders for those who didn’t grasp the new concepts with such facility. This enables students to focus on their various strengths and weaknesses.

Encourage your students to swap notes that they took while watching the most recent video lecture and tell each other what new vocabulary they learned related to the topic. Doing so will lead to each student getting the most out of each lesson.

In summary, flipped teaching gives teachers a break and gives students the chance to really excel both inside and outside of class. So what’s not to love?

Teaching techniques complementary to flipped teaching

The concept of flipped teaching needn’t be a stand-alone. There are various teaching methods you can embrace to bolster its educational power.

Differentiated instruction. This is another way of teaching that focuses on getting to know your students on an individual basis to discover each of their personal strengths and weaknesses. Differentiated instruction refers to providing your students with more than one option for obtaining the information that you teach them.

To use this method in class, offer your students a choice of ways to complete assignments. For example, give them different options for reading and writing tasks and projects.

Project-based learning. This refers to concentrating your lessons around your students completing projects throughout the semester or year. Projects can be another great way to implement cooperative learning in the Spanish classroom. Making projects contributes to a deeper understanding of the topics you teach your students.

Teaching methods have come a long way in recent days in an attempt to take into consideration the ever-changing needs of students.

Incorporating these modern methods into your Spanish class provides a great opportunity to ensure that your students get the most out of your lessons.

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