TPRS is not a new phenomenon in my 6th grade Spanish class, but there was a new
presentation /telling of the story last week. We had been gearing up for a story. The targeted vocab had been gestured. The vocab had been extended and applied through PQA. The mix of serous and silly personalized questions kept the students actively listening and responding. The students were ready and prepared for the story.
Of course, the best preparations can be messed up by Mother Nature. For the second year in a row, our district has been closed a couple days because of floods. This year was the fault of Super Storm Sandy. Her appearance was anti-climatic (thankfully) in Central Pennsylvania, but it was enough to interrupt our story.
I had already been considering the details to flipping a story. All the pre-story setup already happened in the classroom. I had judged their level of understanding before releasing them to learn on their own. The students were already familiar with the procedure and purpose of flipped lessons, because I had flipped basic grammar and vocab already. The videos are short, but take a long time to create; which is my own fault because I feel obligated to have high standards of near perfection for both audio and images.
The video of the story itself is short (3 minutes and 10 seconds). However, that is probably too short; next time I need to slow down the pace of the story. I was speaking too quickly for my audience. The video was uploaded to YouTube, then embedded in Edmodo and the Spanish Techbook. It was embedded on Edmodo for the ease of viewing. The students automatically check Edmodo to find resources since it is our home base. The exact same videos were posted on the Techbook so students viewing from a mobile device could access the content with the YouTube viewing app.
Besides the pace, another change I would make was the use of dialogue. Most students understood that the characters were talking to each other (thanks to the comedic attempt at changing my voice between characters). However, it was not completely clear. I will save future dialogue for the written portion of the story.
Unlike an in class story, the questions were asked separate from the story. The rationale was for students to watch and re-watch the video of the story before accessing the video with the questions. The questioning video was longer (4 minutes and 56 seconds) because I added wait time between the question and the correct answer. Since I was giving them the answers, it did not make sense to have them write down their own responses. Instead, I had them summarize the story in at least one English sentence. The homework point was granted to everyone who submitted their summary. No one was completely off the mark. I did not take off if they missed or mixed up a detail. It was not their job to be perfect, but it is my job to ensure that the story is comprehensible.
So what were my overall impressions of incorporating a flipped story? I think there are many advantages:
- There was an increase in the confidence for students who sometimes struggle with following along to a story told solely in class.
- The use of images gave many context clues for the progression of the story.
- Students were able to watch at their own pace. If they needed to pause or re-wind, they had that option.
- The story was extended outside of the classroom. Many of them watched the video from a mobile device. Based on the submission times, some of them even watched the video while on the bus.
There were also some disadvantages:
- The time it took to create the digital version of the story.
- Because of the weather, not everyone had the opportunity to watch, since some students were without electricity. I did have some extra time built into class for students to watch once before we continued with story related tasks.
There are more positives than drawbacks. This is an experiment that is worth repeating.
So what were the follow ups in class? What were the next steps after flipping the story?
- I re-told a shortened version of the story with questions intermingled – like we do with a traditional TPRS story.
- We read the written version of the story. I read the story out loud in Spanish one paragraph at a time. They translated popcorn style – they had to translate a minimum of one word and a maximum of the entire paragraph.
- The students took a formative quiz using Socrative (SOC-522680) about the story. The last question asked the students to rate their own understanding on a scale of 1 to 5. No one selected 1 or 2 (did not understand), the majority selected either 4 or 5 (understood and felt confident answering questions).
- I had a sub, so I was able to leave the storyboard as the next lesson step. Each student had to identify the 8 sentences they thought could tell the story. They copied each sentence into a box and added an illustration.
- The homework was to read the story to a parent and have them sign the storyboard. The cycle is complete – from listening to a story to telling the story.