Flipping the Flip to Empower Students: Using Constructivist Principles to Reinvent Flipped ELA Instruction

Flipping the Flip to Empower Students: Using Constructivist Principles to Reinvent Flipped ELA Instruction

Clarice M. Moran (Kennesaw State University, USA), Carl A. Young (North Carolina State University, USA), Natascha Brooks (Wake County Public Schools, USA) and Anthony Romano (Wake County Public Schools, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2242-3.ch013
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One of the key criticisms leveled at the flipped method of instruction is that it is simply “business as usual” with teachers delivering didactic lectures, and the students relying on them for information. To address this issue, the authors each enacted a form of flipping in their respective classroom contexts in which students made digital videos for their peers to view for instructional gain. This process, which the authors dubbed SMILE (Student Made Inquiry-based Learning Experience), advocates for students to be the creators of content actively engaging their peers. Rather than teachers serving in a more traditional role, they serve as facilitators in this model. Results from action research across the varying classroom contexts indicated that students were highly engaged and achieved targeted learning goals through the SMILE process.
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Impetus For The Study

In light of these concerns, we wondered if the flipped model could be used as a means for empowering students in addition to teachers. As ELA teachers, we were curious if providing students the opportunity to create the flipped videos would allow for more authentic student voices in the ELA curriculum. We envisioned a classroom paradigm in which students reached beyond their role as recipients of teacher-delivered knowledge and instructed themselves and each other in a more autonomous and democratic environment. We drew on the basic learner-centered, constructivist belief that students should be encouraged to think on their own and reflect critically on the process with meaningful guidance from a teacher (Eby, Herrell, & Jordan, 2006). We believed that this philosophy contrasted sharply with a direct instruction approach in which the teacher is the center of the classroom, and students’ time is spent primarily on academic tasks structured by the teacher (Santrock, 2008). We wanted to promote a more democratic classroom, and we believed that we could use the flipped method to do that.

After meeting to discuss a more constructivist approach to flipping, each of us sought to enact the idea within our own respective classrooms with different sets of students. Clarice launched an action research project with her students in a required reading course in a teacher preparation program at a large, public university. Natascha utilized the idea with her middle school students in a standard public school ELA curriculum. Carl adapted the approach to include a variation of the Digital Video (DV)Sound Bite Project (http://dv-sound-bite.wikispaces.com/) in his digital literacies course for preservice ELA teachers at a large, public university, while Anthony used the DV Sound Bite Project to teach literary theme to high school students. Each of us focused on the same core principle: students would be the makers and holders of knowledge, as well as the ones to disseminate that knowledge to their peers and others. We decided to conceptualize this constructivist adaptation of flipped learning – our means of flipping the flip – as Student-Made Inquiry-based Learning Experience (SMILE). For each of us, engaging students in the SMILE process featured an inquiry-based approach to video creation by one or more students. Students learned through crafting the videos, as well as watching the ones their peers made. In addition, the contents of the videos were used to facilitate learning activities inside the class. We also decided that each of us would engage in an informal action research approach (e.g., composing, collecting, coding, and analyzing field notes, student feedback, project reflections, course evaluations, etc.) in order to ascertain how our attempt to flip the flip would play out.

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