Flipped Classroom Teaching for English Language Learners

Erin Hoover, English Teacher for Students of Other Languages, Rochester City School District

In the fall of the 2013-14 school year, I began to experiment with aspects of flipped-teaching with my Newcomer ESOL English class. I gave my students videos to watch and post about on an online forum called Padlet. Additionally, during each viewing they were asked to fill in a notes sheet with a series of general questions designed to help them consider the academic skills presented in the videos while simultaneously informing me about their various levels of comprehension. I gave my class a series of 5 videos, and, over the course of this project I came to some important conclusions about flipped learning with English Language Learners.

Initially, I gave my students videos to support the high level skills of literary analysis which they are required to master as part of the Common Core State Standards. Because these skills are especially challenging for newcomer English Language Learners, I predicted that accessing the videos I chose for them would yield an increased level of understanding and success with textual analysis. After sending the third video, I observed in my data and notes that the videos I had chosen were not impacting my students’ learning in the way I had hoped. I did some additional research about flipped-teaching and found that many teachers employ this method with math, typically using step-by-step tutorial videos. I therefore decided to change to grammar-based videos, which were more formulaic like math and less abstract like the literary-based videos I had started out with.

In the end, I found that grammar videos were useful in the context of flipped learning because more students were able to comprehend and immediately put to use the skills presented. I realized that I had started this action research project by giving my students videos that would potentially help me as the instructor rather than help the students learn independently outside of the classroom. With newcomer English Language Learners, there is no replacement for in-class explicit instruction with immediate feedback from a teacher. However, my students responded well to the more tangible grammar-based instructional videos because they served as in-home teachers helping them to complete English practice exercises on their own.

As a result of this action research project, I have decided to continue using methods of flip-teaching to support my students’ language development in the area of English grammar. My hope is that students will not only improve their writing skills, but also develop the habit of researching and using instructional videos as a means of independent learning to support themselves in all of their classes.  For more information on this project, see my action research report, Using Academic Skill Videos with Newcomer English Language Learners.

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