But in English, other than Troy Cockrum and Kate Petty, there aren't many people flipping AND writing about it. I think it is partially a problem of definition; there aren't many people who can define what English flipping looks like. So here's my attempt:
Flipping English is about two things:
1) helping students take responsibility for their own learning by understanding them and their unique skills, abilities, and needs, and
2) leveraging technology to build a student-centred learning environment that meaningfully engages the cultural context in which our students live.
There are many educators with great intentions who approach flipping English in the same way that math and science teachers flip. They choose grammar, vocabulary or concrete writing skills because those fit best in the "traditional flip" method.
That's where I started too, because it didn't make sense to me otherwise.
As I've continued with flipping, I found that the traditional flip didn't help me all that much. Yes, it made sub days easier (when I had several conference days in a row, having a video that the sub could show, sure made my life easier) and it was great for test prep before the California High School Exit Exam.
But the traditional flip didn't fundamentally change my students. They thought the videos were cool, but they weren't taking any more responsibility for their own learning than they did before I flipped. They also weren't using much technology in class either.
So I decided I had to change something.
I found two carts of netbooks that weren't being used much and put them in my room. I signed up for Edmodo, and had my students do the same. I recorded myself using ShowMe, reading the entire novel we were studying, and started using Today's Meet to have live discussions while I played the video in class. I encouraged and rewarded student curiosity in those discussions, and something amazing happened:
I actually flipped my class.
And here's the thing: There is no one who can tell you how to flip your class. You can get ideas from other people (and you should!), but flipped learning is first and foremost about understanding your students, and meeting their needs. Therefore, by definition, the teacher has to make their class centred, focused, obsessed, with helping the students in the room in the best way possible. That's why flipped teaching will never make the teacher obsolete. The flipped classroom doesn't work without the teacher managing the learning opportunities, and helping students manage their own learning.
I'm lucky to have had lots of support from my administration, my colleagues, and my PLN on Twitter and Edmodo; but most meaningfully, I learned how to fail fast. When something didn't work, I tried something else. When that didn't work, I tried something else.
I also was able to use June School to try out a lot of different ideas, like flipped self-paced mastery. Now, mastery can't look the same as it does in math or science either. Even standards-based grading in English is much more difficult. I mean, how do you measure mastery on analysis or word choice?
Despite that, I do believe in self-pacing and in trying to assess mastery. I have already seen how it can help students move from where they ARE to where they need to be. We may not be able to fully quantify mastery, but we can measure how close students have come to the standard we expect (or better yet, whether they can go beyond what we expect).
Part of my summer work is to figure out what mastery in the major English skills looks like, and how to assess it. I also want to revise some of my videos to make them more like my recent ones (see the bottom of the post for the latest two, about which I'm much happier than my early attempts!). The most revolutionary thing I figured out in my video production is that I need to include something for students to do/answer/write/think about in the actual video. I then have them bring their answers (and, hopefully, questions) back to me as evidence of completion.
For those of you who need something more concrete, here are some of my ideas for flipping English, beyond the grammar video (though I will start with grammar because that's where most people start):
--use DOLs - ideally engaging sentence corrections. There is very little research around using grammar independently of writing. Using worksheets where students underline participial phrases and identify the direct object are not best practices and don't transfer to students' writing. But there is data (both in research and in my own practice) that sentence correction and targeted instruction will transfer and solidify with students.
--give students targeted remediation based on whatever they missed on the DOLs. I use my own videos, as well as online grammar games and exercises (like Grammar Ninja and Chomp Chomp) to give them practice - even though it's "worksheet"-y, just the fact that it feels like a game gives it more value to my students.
--after I've assigned specific skills for them a while, I ask students to choose what THEY think they need to work on. They post a screenshot of their end score as evidence of completion.
--use the same process for issues you see in students' writing. If they miss apostrophes in their essay, assign them some practice based on that.
--after they have shown mastery on the practice, hold them accountable for it in ALL of their writing. I've done "greenlining" before, where I will literally draw a green line under a mistake they shouldn't be making and stop reading. I won't continue until they fix it and resubmit it.
--have students take expert samples of writing and compare them in style and mechanics. Then come up with some ideas for how it shows the marks of expert writing and students can apply those lessons to their own writing. We all know that reading more is powerful, so reading excellent examples can only help.
--have students make presentations/videos of themselves explaining a grammar concept.
--make videos about specific skills, like Showing, Not Telling. Then give students lots of ways to practice with it.
--make videos of the instructions for a writing task and have them watch it at home and come up with questions, then use class time to have them write and edit/revise.
--have students make videos editing/revising their own writing, or use voice-thread for them to make comments for each other.
--use Notability to annotate student work and help them revise/give comments
--use the writer's workshop model (Troy Cockrum is the flipped guru on this one - look him up for more info)
--leverage the power of Twitter and Facebook when students are finishing writing outside of the class. Although I believe in letting students compose in class, often students just wanted more time than we had available. So I had them tweet questions to me, and helped them immediately when they got stuck
--connect with other classes, either in your school, your community, or outside of the country. Have students interact with each other and critique the writing of other students. Have them publish blogs together, or compile a digital anthology. The possibilities are endless!
Note: This is where I have fewest answers. I'd love to hear from people who have good ideas in this area, because it's the hardest one to figure out. What I DO NOT see as flipped instruction is when teachers have students read at home and discuss in class. That's just traditional teaching. It can be good, but I really don't see it as flipping.
--make a video where you annotate one page of the reading to look for a particular element (like foreshadowing). Then either have them read or (better yet) have them listen to YOU read on video for a few more pages. Then have students find more examples on their own in that last section and bring them to class.
--use videos of yourself reading in class while simultaneously having live discussions on Edmodo, Today's Meet, or Cover It Live. Focus on asking/answering questions and having students google for definitions, historical information, etc.
--model reading skills on video and have students apply that in their own section of reading.
--do a video with another English or History teacher where you discuss a text or big idea. You can use the teacher/student dynamic that Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams often adopt, or just have a roundtable-style discussion (note: if this interests you, contact me. It's in the works with a collection of ELA/SS teachers through Twitter)
--have students blog about their reading and/or respond to other blogs
--preview the reading on video, either historically, with vocabulary/major concepts, or thematically. It can help build excitement for class and allow students to make connections with the text.
--have students make their own videos or voice threads of their thoughts on the reading, and then respond to other students' videos/VTs.
--have students rewrite scenes as Twitter/Facebook dialogues, either by themselves or with a partner
--use videos that thematically connect with the reading, and engage the students using live response (Twitter, Today's Meet, etc.)
So even though there is no How-To binder, there are TONS of options for how to flip English.
The way you know you've flipped is:
--your students are excited about learning, and their curiosity drives the learning, and possibly even the content
--you use technology when/where appropriate to do direct instruction
--you change how you structure class time so that students can work with the expert (the teacher) in the room
--you help students see real-world connections between what you're doing in class and what they're doing outside of class, and what they will need for their future
--you find that you know your students better because of the increased amount of meaningful contact you have with each student
I'm sure there are more, but that's my list. It is only my opinion, so take it for what it's worth. :-)
So where and how do you start?
Here are some questions that have helped me think through what flipped English is in my classroom:
1. What skills do your students need? (ideally, base this on the common core)
2. How can you tell that they've mastered those skills?
3. What tools do they need from you?
4. What should they be figuring out on their own? What are they capable of figuring out on their own RIGHT NOW? How can you encourage independence in students?
5. Which skills can be taught via video? Which ones can't/shouldn't be taught on video?
6. What classroom activities can help reinforce the skills you can teach on video?
7. How can you bring inquiry and project-based-learning into your class?
8. What technology is available to you, and what is available to your students?
9. What technology is comfortable to you, and what is comfortable to your students? How will you bridge that gap?
10. How much time do you spend talking to the whole class? How can you reduce that? How can you increase the time spent talking to your students individually?
11. How can I build a culture where revision is not encouraged, but accepted? How can I shift students' focus away from points/grades and towards pursuing learning?
When you honestly answer those questions, you can come to an understanding of how YOU can flip English.
Okay. So that's it for now. I hope to hear more ideas from all of you, because this is nowhere near an exhaustive list. As we move towards an understanding of the role English plays in the Flipped Classroom movement, I know the definition I offer will shift and change, just like the technology we utilise in class.
As promised earlier in the post, here are my most recent ShowMe videos. I'm not saying they are perfect, but they are MUCH better than what I was producing early on.