Make classwork homework! (and make class time more effective)


How to use class time more effectively is something I always ponder.  I try to find new ways to compact information and give bursts of instruction in order to make the face time with our students more productive.  Class time is precious, so we have to ask, “What is it important for students to complete in class, and which are the things they can reasonably complete at home?” was my inspiration for this blog.

Can a lecture or direct instruction be done at home, and the practice and application be done in class?  Why not?  Doesn’t it make more sense to use the class time more effectively?  In math class, this would look like a video lecture at home, and practice problems done in class where the teacher is available to help. 

But what would this look like for the foreign language class?  If you are covering a grammar point, have the students watch a video, powerepoint or prezi at home. You can differentiate instruction this way because students can watch it on their own time, without distractions, as quickly or slowly as they would like, using a template or a self-generated graphic organizer.  You can even have them post on a discussion board asking questions, giving answers and sharing thoughts that would facilitate the learning. Students that were more advanced could learn by teaching others, and more reluctant learners would be more willing to participate in a less stressful and intimidating setting.  By flipping the work, class time could be devoted to what is most important and what should actually be assessed, the students using the language.

Here’s an example: I assigned these videos for homework with an accompanying blog discussion or a notes template or graphic organizer:

The next day, I provided cut up sentences as the activation activity, in which students had to match the verb ending with the stem but also have the sentence make sense. (This can be done as a whole class activity with colored paper in fron tof the class, or at desks in small groups.) 

The processing activity was a speaking activity in which they asked each other questions.  What would you do if you were…..???  They were given the prompts ahead of time to read and formulate answers.  Then they were each assigned one question to ask each student.  In a speed dating style activity, they asked and answered a question.

As a closing activity, they could, in groups of four, tell their classmates what they learned about other students in these hypothetical scenarios. Or this could be the start of a writing assignment, and the closing could be the beginning of a brainstorm to prepare.


4 responses »

  1. Thanks! These ideas are great! Do you have any ideas for lower levels? What about in lower income areas where not everyone has access to a computer?

  2. And how did it go? Did you find that it was an effective way of teaching the grammar? I’ve been reading up on the flipped classroom and have been considering trying it, but my one concern is that some of the students don’t always have access to a computer at home or a sibling is using it, or some other reason. Are you going to keep at it with this method?

  3. Thanks for the feedback!! I have tried this technique with students of varying socio-economic status. I feel it is even more vital to teach lower income students how to use these resources because they don’t have them at home. I encourage them to use the library at school or in town. I’m not sure of your experience, but I have seen most students manage to have access to at least one smartphone or similar device per household. There is also the possibility of collaborating with a classmate. I provide a technology survey in the beginning of the year so I am aware of my students’ needs. I particularly look to develop relationships with students with less resources and talk to them honestly about the importance of getting their work done despite their obstacles. I often have a conversation with the whole class about real-world problem solving techniques. To avoid singling out the students with limited resources, I speak generally about not having internet or computer access at home, whether it be because you’re sharing with parents or a sibling, because your internet or computer is down, or because you’re grounded and your phone was taken away They usually respond with the following: getting to school early or staying late, going to a neighbor or friend’s house and managing time effectively.

    Set the bar high, and let them rise to it. Let them take responsibility for their own learning! Don’t allow for excuses. We want all students to succeed regardless of their situation.

    On a separate note, flipping doesn’t always have to involve technology. It can involve a book or a handout as well. If it does involve technology, be flexible. Provide advance notice of deadlines, or give two days to complete the assignment.

  4. I agree, they can usually find something to gain access to technology (be it a smartphone or library computer), but I’ve been asked the question that if they don’t have access to the technology now, what’s the point of teaching them how to use technology now? I usually tell them that learning about technology now will give them an edge in keeping up with it in the future when they have greater access to technology.

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