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Progress on Flippin: Week 1

August 26, 2011

Week one has started with some of the customary hiccups. There were not enough books in the bookstore. Students were added to the class throughout the week. The class is big, really big for an ESL writing class as it is now hovering around 30 students in a room designed for about 20 students. But it is a great room with the technology I love to use.

I made some discoveries that will help me in thinking through what I am doing. I knew about the Khan Academy some time ago which provides a nice model for how to flip a class. But I needed some better ideas about how to put this into practice from a classroom teachers’ perspective. I found two sites that look very helpful.

Anyone who says procrastination does not pay off, is not always correct. I planned to buy Camtasia for the Mac, the TechSmith application for screencasting, but I kept putting it off partially because of the price. On Facebook a few days ago, TechSmith announced a special offer.

Half price is a nice payoff for procrastination.

In class this week, we worked on nouns and began pronouns. I provided the link to the page on Google sites where I put the videos on our learning management system. We worked on a few exercises in class and a first writing assignment. I asked them to write a paragraph about four pictures that I put together on one PowerPoint slide.

I used the pictures to lead the writing toward using count and noncount nouns and plurals. We went to work on the story. I had one student who was not writing anything, but after some encouragement began writing. She seemed to think she could not write, but she did as well as the other students. After they wrote the story, I had them rewrite to include names of the fruits. Then we rewrote again to include some of the colors of the fruits. We did this because I find student writers at this level don’t think in terms of specific details. I haven’t read the paragraphs yet because I told the students to put them on Google Documents using their college accounts for Monday’s class. I want to use Google Documents with this class to make the writing more interactive.

At this point, I find I need to work more on the coaching aspect with writing and with the exercises. I did some coaching during the paragraph writing, but I found myself sometimes just standing back and letting them go. They were going okay, but I missed out on a few opportunities for encouragement. Also, I have to stop myself from making grammar suggestions and instead make writing suggestions such as “Couldn’t you add a better detail here?” or “How can we connect these two ideas?”

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