(referenced to Contemporary Topics, 4th edition, Pearson

A key to creating and maintaining engaging online classes, with maximum student participation,  is to “flip” the classroom.  A “flipped classroom” is basically an instructional strategy and a type of “blended” learning in which students are expected to do certain activities outside of class meeting time and to participate actively in “live” class meetings.  Ideally, a flipped classroom will improve student engagement and active learning, and give the instructor a better opportunity to deal with mixed levels, student difficulties, and different learning styles during the actual class meetings. 

For a flipped classroom to work, students obviously have to “buy in” to the concept.  They have to prepare certain activities on their own and come to class ready to participate. Particularly for Zoom-type online classes, some students may feel disconnected and disaffected, and become even more passive.  Think of yourself as a coach —  even a therapist! — helping students to enjoy learning and to do their best. Reward active participation – and expect a learning curve. Be patient. Not everyone will be able or willing to adapt to this type of classroom right away.  

Here is an example of what kinds of activities can be best done by the students individually (on their own before class) and which are best done in the active learning context.  A third type of activity – “whole group” – is still important in online classes.  In this type of activity, teachers are conducting an activity, often as a review.  

(Referenced to Contemporary Topics 1, Unit 9, Product Design) 

At homeindividually, students can do:

• Connect to the Topic, preparation of personal responses

• Build your Vocabulary,  completion of exercises 

• Watch the Lecture, completion of exercises

• Talk about the Topic, completion of exercises

• Express your Ideas, completion of research and outline for presentation 

• Express your Ideas, recording of presentation on FlipGrid or similar software 

In Class, working in pairs and small groups (“Break out groups”) students can do:

•  Connect to the Topic, sharing of personal responses in small groups 

•  Build your Vocabulary,  checking answers and quizzing partner 

•  Build your Vocabulary,  reviewing related Quizlet online activities for vocabulary building

•  Focus your Attention, comparing notes with a partner 

•  Watch the Lecture, supplementary speaking task (share points of interest) 

• Talk about the Topic, completion of group discussion activity

•  Review your Notes, completion of notes

• Express your Ideas, presentation   

In Class, as a whole group, students can do: 

• Focus your attention, note-taking activity (Teacher can share screen to show examples.) 

• Watch the Lecture, review of at-home activity

• Hear the Language, review of activity

•  Talk about the Topic, review of group discussion 

•  Review your Notes, review of completed notes (Teacher can share screen to show examples.)

The key to making flipped classes work is to “embrace” the idea of social learning.  Students are learning throughinteraction!  The students should feel that they’re the ones doing the work — and they are!  You can’t learn for the students, you can only present the vision for them. You can provide the activity framework and coaching support to accelerate and guide their learning.  “Flipping the classroom” is one strategy for shifting responsibility for learning to your students.  

© 2020 Michael Rost 


About The Author

, Flipping the classroom to maximize interaction in online classes, Lateral Communications
Michael Rost, principal author of Pearson English Interactive, has been active in the areas of language teaching, learning technology and language acquisition research for over 25 years. His interest in bilingualism and language education began in the Peace Corps in West Africa and was fuelled during his 10 years as an educator in Japan and extensive touring as a lecturer in East Asia and Latin America. Formerly on the faculty of the TESOL programs at Temple University and the University of California, Berkeley, Michael now works as an independent researcher, author, and speaker based in San Francisco.