A Way of Flipping a Mixed Ability Class

“I have a mixed ability class and some of the students refuse to respond to the lessons whereas some are highly motivated and some of them join us when they feel they can do” Isn’t this a common problem for teachers? People learn better when they want to learn. I agree that teachers can only open the door, but the learners must walk through it themselves. (Chinese proverb)

However, a teacher’s task is to make every move to reach as many students as she has in the class. I know this is sometimes very hard and sometimes it is even harder.

I love my job because it is a great way of keeping my mind active. When something fails in my class, I force myself to find a way to change the things. That’s why I love Action Research. I ask myself questions, try to collect data and then try to find a solution.

I have a typical mixed ability class of 9th graders this year and they are forcing me to read and learn more. From September to December, I tried games, songs, group works, pair works but only a small group responded well. I had been reading about flipped classroom and listening to colleagues, who were practicing it successfully. I also wanted to try it and see if it would work with a mixed-ability class or not.

I told them from time to time, we would change the roles and they would be the teachers in the class in the next lesson but I also told them that they would come to the class prepared.

-I created an online noticeboard on Blendspace and added a powerpoint presentation I created, a YouTube video, some exercises.

-I gave the link of the noticeboard on their class blog.

-I described their tasks. They had to learn how to compare things.

-In the classroom, I divided them in groups of three as their level of English beforehand so that each group was formed of mixed ability students. I told them they had to teach how to compare in English to each other. I also told them to use their mobile phones and record their voices while working together and then send me the recordings. I walked and monitored them while they were working. I sometimes stopped and helped them when they needed my help.

-They prepared a poster with the rules.

-I told them to stop and share what they had learned. Every student in the groups explained a rule.

-They prepared a short exercise. They did the exercises they prepared.

-Then they participated a game I created. We played tic-tac-toe.

-The students gave their feedback. I used todaysmeet to get their feedback. They said they liked the way we did the lesson and they enjoyed using their mobile phones in the lesson.


3 comments on “A Way of Flipping a Mixed Ability Class
  1. Dear Eva,
    That definitely sounded like a great lesson! Well done!
    I like the idea of flipped classroom and even though I have experimented with it a bit, I would love to do more work in the upside down way. Or as they say, once you explain to others, you’ll understand!

    I also love the idea of recording their discussions. I’ve been thinking along the same lines. I was thinking of dialogues that they record and then analyze the language afterwards.

    As for mixed levels … well! That’s my daily bread 😉 VERY, VERY mixed 🙂

  2. Hi Eva!

    I, too, have a mixed ability ESL classroom, but they are mixed in grade level and proficiency rather than in just the former. Teaching grades 6-8 from varying proficiency levels often puts in me in positions like yours where some students are highly motivated and improve quickly and others fall behind out of indifference. Your lesson plan seems very interactive and full of technology. Do you find that using technology heavily during class boosts students’ interest levels and improves learning? Are there any problems you ran into when you used the technology for your lesson?

    • Hi Heather,
      Thanks for the comment. I guess mixed ability is the reality of our lives. Sometimes I use technology as in this example but not always. Although they are supposed to be better at using technology, they just use their mobiles, tablets to play games. So just to change the atmosphere I try to add a bit of tech in the lessons. It actually depends in the past years I had students who loved using technology but this year they are reluctant.

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