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Catering for Learner Diversity through Flipped Learning

Sharing by Mr. Law Tak Wing, Pentecostal Holiness Church Wing Kwong College, 2nd Runner-up (English Group)

My goal is to explore how learner diversity could be catered for through the adoption of the flipped approach to grammar teaching and learning. Differentiated materials were produced for the two participating groups, an average ability class and a higher ability class. For the pre-class video on the passive voice, the average ability students had to complete a while-viewing worksheet in hard copy while the more able ones an Edpuzzle assignment and a Quizizz assessment. The former aimed to help the students to note down the key words, facilitating retention of the knowledge learnt. The latter were more demanding, requiring the application of the content of the video.

In-class activities were arranged to promote active learning and higher order thinking. For the average ability class, the students were engaged in a proofreading activity and a short story rewriting task by contributing their ideas about what constituted the passive verb form and why the passive should be used. The rewrite of the story posed a great challenge to the students because the decision about which voice to use was not easy to make. Being cognitively challenged in class, the students received timely assistance from their teacher, who stepped in to clarify some concepts to enhance their understanding. This illustrates the importance of the facilitator role a teacher plays in a flipped classroom. For the more able class, each group was given a picture or sign to describe in the passive. This activity successfully created the group dynamics, promoting a very natural and genuine discussion between the teacher and the students on the source of the pictures or signs and the original messages conveyed.

The two flipped grammar lessons were found to be much more interactive, collaborative, and participatory in nature. The students were more attentive and prepared to mount challenges in the activities. Because of that, the teachers’ time and efforts could be geared towards facilitating the students’ completion of the tasks. More room was therefore left for the discussion on the ‘use’ of the grammar item rather than its ‘form’. It was such authentic exchanges both the teachers and students engaged in that revitalised the originally monotonous grammar lessons. What is more, with the flipped approach, learner diversity was also better catered for because of the diverse levels of in-class activities. Here are two tips for designing suitable activities. First, teachers need to carefully consider their students’ zone of proximal development so that they can perform learning tasks more confidently with the knowledge learnt from the pre-class stage. Another noteworthy aspect is the provision of demonstrations. Since the in-class tasks are higher order in nature, it is vital for teachers to show students what they are expected to achieve and how to do it to maximise their learning effectiveness.

Planning and executing a flipped lesson is a tough but meaningful and inspiring journey for teachers. As far as grammar teaching and learning is concerned, I believe such an approach will give learners greater autonomy as well as more enjoyable learning experiences, and that it will let teachers know that there are endless possibilities in terms of ideas for teaching grammar that are open for them.

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