I am still exploring the whole concept of a flipped classroom for ASL teachers as I am in my fifth week of teaching ASL 1 and 4. I realize that this methodology for teaching ASL is really holding a lot of value for the students because it is a natural way for them to acquire language. They find more value in knowing the language and practicing it because they need to communicate in class. We all know that an hour and fifteen minutes twice a week is not enough time to teach a language, but that immersion opportunities and natural language use is the most effective. So how can we take those understandings and make what we do in the classroom more effective? Teaching is a constant trial and error and understanding how that specific class responds because each classroom is completely different. Experimenting with different methodologies that apply to language acquisition is key to an effective classroom. Along side this educators must continue to develop ways to measure student-learning outcomes. When we match up these numbers gleamed with our teaching strategies we will be able to see some important trends and use this data to inform our instructional approaches. Understanding this can help us to provide more dynamic learning experiences for students, which is what great teachers strive to do. The goal is to have students to leave having a better understanding of the objectives, and in the case of teaching ASL; we want them to be able to be conversationally proficient in the language.
For class next week I am going to try to utilize the flipped classroom method, which is basically skill/vocabulary learning outside of class and then application with real world scenario activities in class. They are a few weeks in one of their chapters so I am going to announce tomorrow their homework assignment of getting familiar with the majority of the chapter’s vocabulary words since they will have to use it in our ‘mock’ college classroom world. They are encouraged to watch vlogs that I have created and of course will stress they have to p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e over the weekend so they are prepared for class. Then on Tuesday I will give each of them a ‘character’ card as soon as they come in. Some of the students will be teachers in specific classes, students, coaches, etc. They will all have a short mission or goal they want to achieve as well as a personality they have to become. There will be pre-set stations around the class and I hopefully be able to bring in some props that they can interact with. This activity will be done all in American Sign Language. Unbeknownst to them they will be completely immersed in a meaningful learning environment where they are forced to use the language to interact with each other, all the while having fun.
We have to continuously challenge ourselves to think about how we naturally learned language when we were younger. We watched it, played with it, knew we needed it to get the things we wanted. i.e. milk, mom/dad, sleep, etc. It wasn’t static but fluid and the natural progression of learning structure and parameters came to us by observation, mimicking, and playing with it. Once we discovered that a specific linguistic form was successful in communicating the meaning we had then learned or acquired that skill. The same concept can be applied to the flipped ASL classroom. We can make 2nd language acquisition as meaningful and engaging as it was to learn our 1st language by providing activities that immerse students in the experience and that make it a necessity to acquire those language skills.
We are all working towards a common goal of teaching language in an effective way with the end result of student language acquisition. One of the best ways to promote best practices throughout all ASL classrooms is by creating an environment among educators that is collaborative, transparent, and accountable. I am still new to teaching ASL and exploring what is effective and what is not so effective in the ASL classroom. What are some of the classroom approaches that you are using to promote natural language acquisition with your ASL students? Have you tried any ‘flipped classroom’ activities? Would love to know your experiences and I promise to share more of my classroom experiences over the next few weeks.