Flipping Your Grammar Classes with the Azar-Hagen Grammar Series

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Geneva Tesh

The flipped classroom model is not a new concept for most ESL teachers. We’ve been flipping classes long before it became the latest trend in education, long before we even knew what to call it, understanding intuitively that students will not acquire a language by passively listening to an instructor’s lecture. Flipping the classroom happens naturally in conversation and reading classes, which lend themselves to class discussions or role-playing activities, or in writing classes, where students can spend valuable class time writing and peer editing. But what about grammar classes? This seems to be where many teachers get trapped in the common pitfalls of providing lengthy explanations and reading through a list of rules, followed by reciting answers to fill-in-the-blank activities. How can grammar teachers apply the flipped model to create engaging, dynamic lessons? Continue reading

Constructivism: Increasing Student Engagement

susan_gaerSusan Gaer

Constructivism is an educational philosophy that became popular in the early 1990s. The basic framework of constructivism is that students create their own learning; that is, we can’t teach students to learn – they have to learn for themselves. Using this framework, teachers take on the role of facilitator, and each student learns what he or she needs to. This fits in well with the new Bloom’s taxonomy where creating becomes the most powerful rung on the taxonomy ladder. Constructivist learning also fits right in with multi-level instruction and flipped learning.

Constructivist theory posits that there is no learning unless learners have created it from experiences; therefore, when using the constructivist approach, you are also creating a more engaged classroom that is student centered. Here are a few techniques that I use to make my classroom more constructivist. Continue reading

Fresh Beginnings, Blended Learning and FLIPping

SCAD Language Studio ? Professor Christina Cavage, Human Resources headshot, Fall 2013 ? Photography by Stephanie Krell, courtesy of SCADChristina Cavage

In few professions do you get start over every year, every semester, or quarter.  It’s a wonderful thing, and one of the best parts about teaching.  As we begin anew, it gives us an opportunity to try new techniques, materials, employ those innovative strategies on a fresh group of learners.  It was a few years back that I decided to try something new—blended learning.  Extending my students’ learning experiences has not only proved valuable to their learning, but has allowed me to become the kind of classroom teaching I have always wanted to be.

Some of you may have been following my articles on blended learning and flipping your ESL classroom, some of you may have been decided to make that leap.  For those still on the fence, or wanting to know more, I thought I would review some of the finer points I covered in the last few newsletters. Continue reading

Flipping: Intentional Content

2014_CCavageChristina Cavage

Are you making a shift? A shift in the way you think about the delivery of course content?  In this month’s newsletter I’d like to focus on the I in FLIP—Intentional Content—my favorite pillar.

Intentional content is all about choosing the best content to be delivered in the classroom, and the best content to be delivered outside of the classroom.  In a typical classroom today, we often teach new language structures or functions in the classroom and assign homework in which students have to apply, evaluate or create with the new language.  However, flipping is all about taking the learning, the new content, outside of the classroom.  Consider Bloom’s Taxonomy for a minute.


We often work on the lower levels of Bloom’s in class: Remembering and Understanding while we leave the Applying, Analyzing and Creating for outside of class.  In a Flipped Classroom, Remembering and Understanding are moved outside of the classroom– leaving room for Creating, Analyzing and Applying in the classroom. You may be thinking, “Don’t students need instructors to explain new structures and concepts?”  Absolutely.  However, many digital tools allow us to do this quite easily.  So, what content should be moved outside of the classroom? What content would benefit students greatly to hear again and again?  In class, we often only have ‘time’ to explain things once or twice.  However, if we moved this outside of the classroom, students could get the repetition so many of them need. Take a look at this video: Next Generation Grammar, 1, Chapter 16 Video

Moving this simple instruction outside of the classroom, allows learners to really engage and interact with the new information in a safe environment, at their own pace.  Additionally, think of all the applying, analyzing and creating that could happen the next class period.  We could have students prepare dialogues where they are comparing one class to another, one place to another.  Or, perhaps, we can have students write a comparison paragraph.  Students can aid one another in the revision of the paragraphs.  You can bring items in and have students compare the items.  The possibilities are endless.

Should all new content be moved outside of the classroom?  Absolutely not!  That again, is where the I comes in.  It must be intentional.  Start small.  Use the wealth of resources that already exist…  Khan Academy, YouTube, TeacherTube, TedEd, MyEnglishLab. Intentionally selecting the best content will not only free up your class time to really apply learning, but it will also greatly benefit your students.  They will develop greater learner autonomy.



Flipping Bloom: What Flipped Learning Can Mean for ESL Students

susan_gaerSusan Gaer

I have thought about writing this for quite some time. What is flipped learning? In 1948 Benjamin Bloom developed Bloom’s Taxonomy. This taxonomy determined learning. There were six tiers to get through and students needed to progress through the first tier before moving on to the second, and so on. Continue reading