In yesterday’s flipped speaking lesson, the main activity was for the students to edit a problem script, and then produce, in groups, a captioned video of an improved conversation using Adobe Spark Video. On top of the proper subtitles produced by the students, the video contained their oral recording and the pictures they took of each other speaking. When everything was done, they had to upload their group video to the class blog. So, there were quite a few things the children needed to do.
For the entire 25 minutes, these P4 children were highly motivated and totally engaged. Every group worked as a cohesive team. Not a single discipline problem popped up. Again, this didn’t happen by chance: the fact they loved English lessons (and their teacher); the task design which had appropriate cognitive and linguistic challenge; the fun of producing their own group video; and the good classroom management skills that Zoe Chan possessed.
Another seasoned e-learning teacher, Fiona Yung, has pointed out the importance of classroom routines, especially for e-learning lessons, where students will be given iPads to ‘play’ with. They can be doing things they are not supposed to do. They may be fighting with each other over the task. Or they may be so engrossed that the teacher is unable to regain their attention. So, some training in e-learning lesson routines is necessary. Fiona uses a set of short and sharp instructions such as ‘iPads up’, ‘iPads down’, to manage the lesson procedure. She is now even developing a set of such standard commands for all the teachers to use, so that the students would follow easily, no matter who the teacher is.
So, as I’ve been saying again and again, good lessons don’t happen by chance. They are the result of sustained classroom culture building, thorough and creative lesson planning, effective classroom teaching strategies, and proficient classroom management skills. Behind all this is also a wealth of professional knowledge and a rich pedagogical repertoire. Teaching is one of the jobs in the world that require the most professional competencies.