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"Flipping" World Literature: Four Texts to Try

Posted on October 09, 2017

Like many other educational terms, "flipped instruction" if often tossed (or flipped) around, but rarely discussed in depth. Even more rarely is it considered for use in the English and literature classroom. Yet, any student who's ever drowsed through an hour-long lecture, or educator who's searched for ways to help students understand complex texts, will intuitively grasp the benefits of using class time for challenging, collaborative work.

Below, you'll find Julie Schell's one-minute explanation of what, exactly, flipping is.

(Watch on YouTube.)

The essence of this educational model is:

  1. Before class, students are introduced to the content via a video or other learning tool
  2. During class, students deepen their understanding through work and collaboration, receiving guidance and feedback.

In a flipped world literature classroom, students might arrive in class with a basic understanding of the cultural influences at play in a poem, and then use class time to expand their understanding of those influences as they closely read the poem, write responses, or collaborate on a project around it. As students work, the teacher circulates, sharing expertise and providing guidance.

Below, you'll find links to some of the most "flippable" poems, stories and essays on WWB Campus. There are video profiles of the authors and translators in the Context tab to the right of the literature, and these profiles can serve as an introduction to the work, opening up class time for close reading, collaborative analysis, and student writing (you'll find suggestions in the Teaching Ideas tab.)

  • "Sleepless Homeland": from Mexico, a poem about the human costs of the drug wars.
  • "The Guest": from Egypt, an autobiographical short story about a grandmother who married "The Chief of Bedouins."
  • "An Interview with Wu Wenjian," from China, an oral history of a young man's participation in the Tiananmen Square protests. (The translator also took part in the protests.)
  • "Sentimental Education," from Japan, a psychologically rich story of a young girl's early childhood.

Once you and the students get comfortable with flipping, you might try:

  • Giving students choice within a collection of introductory materials. WWB Campus posts a selection of multimedia materials (maps, images, audio, video, etc.) alongside the literature; so a teacher might say, "Choose one resource from the Context tab to look at before class tomorrow; be ready to describe and discuss what you've seen."
  • Creating your own video introductions to new works of literature, or assigning that task to a rotating roster of students (See resources below for examples and guidance.)

Does "flipping" sound like something you might want to try? Let us know what you think, here or on Facebook.

Resources
  1. PBS footage from a Detroit high school that's entirely "flipped." 
  2. Watch-Summarize-Question, a quick strategy for assessing students' comprehension of a video.  
  3. An AP English teacher on how flipping can add choice and rigor to a classroom: Start a Reading Revolution: Flip Your Class With Blogs (The students' comments also make a good case for adding diverse, contemporary literature to syllabi.)
  4. An example of an educator-created flipped learning video: Mr. Osborne - British Literature Unit Preview 4 - The Romantic Period.
  5. A guide to available, often free, tools and resources: 12 Ways to Create Flipped Learning Content.  
  6. Technologies to support students' at-home reading: Flip reading assignments and make them interactive.  

(This post was republished in a slightly different form on the Flipped Learning Network.) 

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