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by Dan

KAMALL 2014 – Challenges and Opportunities in a Flipped Writing Classroom

September 20, 2014 in CALL, Education, Instructional Technology, Presentations, Technology by Dan

I was happy to present on my attempt to “flip” my writing class last semester.  This presentation was really a preliminary look at the data, but the more I looked, the more interesting it became. This is the type of design-based research that both informs technology and practice.

Dan in Video Lecture

Challenges and Opportunities in a Flipped Writing Classroom (PPT)


This study evaluates the implementation of a Flipped Classroom approach in two academic English writing courses at a Korean university. The Flipped Classroom approach inverts a traditional class design with students viewing lectures at home and doing homework in class. It was developed in response to a perceived lack of classroom time for engagement and an increase in access to computer and Internet technologies.

Two writing courses for 67 English majors at a Korean university were flipped with the intention of reducing lecture time and increasing students’ discussion of and engagement with writing concepts and practice during class time. Instruction was designed to match these goals. For each major topic, students watched a video and took an online quiz to assess their recall of ideas from the video lecture prior to attending class. In class, students were given time to ask questions about the lectures and assignments. They were then asked to do class activities that encouraged them to come to a deeper understand of the course content. These activities included worksheets, a range of group activities, self- and peer-review of essays, and writing.

PowerPoint presentations were created for major topics in the course (7 total). From these presentations, video lectures were created. Four different screencasting programs were used (Movenote, ActivePresenter, knovio, and in order to evaluate which of the programs best fit the development needs of the instructor and the viewing preferences of the students.

This research was conducted as a type of action research (Lewin, 1946). The researcher was also the lecturer for the two writing courses. As such, the focus of the research was to better understand and improve on the instructional design of the course.  To accomplish this, data were collected from numerous sources, including quizzes, one-on-one and whole class interactions, a research journal, and student survey responses. Preliminary findings will be presented in three categories: student perceptions, teacher perceptions, and instructional design.

Based on student and teacher experiences, the there are a number of instructional design changes that will take place in future classes. Videos will be shorter. This will be accomplished by making more videos that focus on fewer elements in each. Quizzes remain a good way to encourage students to watch the video lectures and to assess their understanding of the content prior to coming to class. It is clear, however, that a better way to push students to both view the videos and take the quizzes is needed. Lastly, more/better activities need to be developed for classes. In particular, I found that we had too few writing samples, too few opportunities to correct negative examples, and too few opportunities to write for the instructional objectives of the day. (PPT – Google Docs)

by Dan

Preparing Teachers to Teach Listening

April 24, 2013 in Education, Korea, Language, Linguistics by Dan

Ian Britton

Ian Britton—Stop-Look-Listen-Sign_web.jpg

In my last post (Discovering Field’s Diagnostic Listening Instruction) I explained how I am approaching listening instruction with both a listening class and a teaching listening class using Field’s Diagnostic Listening Instruction.  In this post, I want to focus on what I do with the Teaching Listening class.  I’ll include a good deal of the materials as well as some design tensions that have arisen in the past and how I’m trying to deal with them now.

My main goal is to focus students on modifying texts (audio) and tasks to best assess for gaps in listening skills and to provide skills training to fill those gaps.  In doing so, we focus largely on Field’s Decoding and Meaning-Building Processes.

Chapters 2-4 discuss beginning, intermediate, and advanced level learners (in addition to other topics mixed into each chapter).  These chapters provide for a good launching off point in the discussion of text & task modification for diverse learners.  Students in the class have to consider learner abilities at each level (ACTFL Guidelines are a helpful framework).  They then have to analyze texts (audio) for potential difficulties that learners may encounter.  Doing this for imaginary learners is less than ideal, but this lack of authenticity is address later in the course (see below).  These analyses then inform how the texts and tasks are implemented in instruction.

The activities/lessons that arise out of these activities are rather predictable.  Students tend to focus on aspects of background knowledge, vocabulary, speaker dialect and speed, number of speakers, background noise, and so forth.  This is when the students usually have to be pushed to refer to the decoding and meaning-building processes.  This takes them out of their comfort zone (based on their own learning experiences) and requires them to think about a wide range of processes that inform listening.  Follow-up assignments that required referencing the processes list tend to show a greater variety of modifications and task-types.

Take the following example.  You have a group of largely low-level English language learners.  Through initial assessments of their listening comprehension, you have found that many are unable to distinguish certain phonemes, they have difficulty finding word boundaries (isolating individual words in multiword utterances), and they have difficulty understanding many dialects that differ noticeably from the North American dialects that they have grown used to.

Knowing this about the learners, you have to choose appropriate texts and tasks to address these gaps.  While you certainly can address more than one at a time, it might be helpful here to isolate our learning objectives.  Let’s take the word boundaries issue first.   We should be addressing this specific performance gap and the processes that can help: stress-timed rhythm, stressed and unstressed words (content vs. function), pronunciation of unstressed syllables, common features of connected speech (linking, blending, elision, etc.), and so forth.

Text: Given the objective, the focus should be more on listening to each word.  In order to do this, it would probably be best for the text to be naturally spoken by a familiar speaker (teacher) or in a familiar dialect.  The text should feature content and vocabulary/expressions that learners are largely familiar with.

Task: The task is focused on these listening processes.  Teachers can explicitly teach some aspects like the features of stress-timed rhythm or these aspects can be gleaned by exposure to the language (likely mixed with some guidance by the teacher).  The tasks, however, should be focused an a particular learning objective.  For stress-timed rhythm, students can be asked to mark all of the stressed words in phrases, sentences, or paragraphs.  That task can then quickly move into a discussion about the primacy of syllables over words in listening and pronunciation.  This then leads into discussion/tasks on the pronunciation and identification of unstressed words and syllables.  This can (and should) continue until each of the learning objectives have been addressed.

These tasks are good at focusing learners on modification and role that student variables play in instructional design. However, this is largely an empty academic task.  This year, I have the good fortune to be able to offer a little more authenticity.  Learners in the Teaching Listening class will be developing lessons for actual listening classes offered by the university and taught by me.  This is the first semester that the course has been offered and I was asked to design and implement it.  I decided to eat my own dog food and attempt to apply the principles of a diagnostic listening approach to the course (I’ll write more about that experience later).  In addition, I realized that this could be a great opportunity for the English Education students to design instruction for real learners.

This semester, the Teaching Listening students will spend much of the second half of the semester developing instruction that I will implement in my classes.  The plan is to have small groups be responsible for developing lessons that address common listening problems as diagnosed by the listening class’s midterm exam.  The students will be given access to anonymized testing and assessment data, which will guide their lesson development.  Lessons (with all materials) will be submitted to me and if I think that they would benefit the listening class, I’ll teach those materials.  I’m even considering having the English Education students run the instruction, but I’m not so sure that I’ll do that.  Anyone want to convince me either way?

That’s about it for the overview.  See below for a bunch of materials related to the class.

PowerPoints that I use in the course. The chapter presentations do contain some information and  resources not in the book.

Other course materials:



by Dan

Discovering Field’s Diagnostic Listening Instruction

March 27, 2013 in Education, Korea, Language by Dan

Photo by garageolimpo

Photo by garageolimpo

When I was first given a class on teaching listening, I scoured the bookstores for a textbook.  It was at that point I realized just how little respect listening instruction receives in publication.  There are a handful of books that cover a mix of speaking and listening, including a well-respected book by Paul Nation, Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking. Most of these books short change listening, though Nation treats it better than most.  A class dedicated to the practice of teaching listening shouldn’t have to share a text with speaking instruction.  A focused class deserves a focused text.

I finally found John Field’s book, Listening in the Language Classroom.  Field’s book is an amazing take on listening instruction.  He promotes using a “diagnostic approach” to listening instruction, which he contrasts with what he refers to as a “comprehension approach.”  This changed the way that I approached language instruction and the preparation of teachers who will have to do the same. I was one of the many who treated listening as a kind of solitary unit that learners either got or didn’t get. I never thought thought about WHY they had difficulties understanding past the obvious (and overly emphasized) issues of speed and vocabulary.

I was excited to use this with my students at the time and did so in that first semester.  It was one of the biggest disasters of my teaching career.  I rightfully had high expectations for the students in the class (all English Education majors), but I so completely misjudged the difficulty of the text.  It was a rookie mistake and both the students and I suffered for it.  I ended up sidelining the book and created outlines and presentations for the students to read/listen to instead (those outlines can be found on this Posterous site until the service closes down on April 30, 2013).  While that experience soured me on using Field’s book with my students, it did nothing to dissuade me from using his ideas with future classes.

I now try to integrate Field’s concepts and approach to instruction with a much easier, accessible text for learners in my classes (Practical English Language Teaching: Listening).  This series of books is written to be as accessible as possible to novice learners in the field of TESOL.  The “Listening” book is no exception.  In the past, I’ve spread the book out over the duration of a semester while sprinkling in concepts from the Field book to add depth.

This semester I’m trying something new.  The first 4 chapters will be done primarily as self-study, while I put more of a focus on Field’s concepts and the application of those concepts with different groups of learners (in parallel with chapters 2-4 in the PELT: Listening text).  The second half of the semester students will primarily be developing lessons for two listening courses taught at the university, with a focus on diagnosing student problems and implementing instructional interventions that address these weaknesses.  I’m quite excited about this partnership and a little nervous as well.

I’ll be following up here on this project throughout the semester, discussing the challenges and, hopefully, successes throughout.


I’d love to hear any thoughts that you have.  What experiences have you had with teaching listening or with teaching teachers how to to teach listening (that’s a mouthful)?  Anything I should look out for? Anything I should try?  Any great lessons that go beyond simple comprehension?

by Dan

Anonymous Feedback Forms for Formative Evaluation (of the teacher/class)

October 2, 2012 in Education by Dan

Anonymous Evaluation

I can go on and on about how much I love Google Forms.  These quick, easy forms can be whipped up in minutes, embedded in a Web page and you’re ready to go whether its for surveys, tests, or simply creating your own study guide for Korean phrases.

I’ve done my own end of semester evaluations for years.  I’ve always hated the ones that the university provides since they don’t have many useful questions for improving my courses.  Great, I come on time and they like the book (or lack of it).  Some of these have been anonymous and others with the students’ names (usually for use in research projects).  I always get a good sense of what students like and don’t like and then I can adjust my courses accordingly from there.

However, I’ve never requested regular feedback during the course.  This semester I’m teaching a CALL course to undergrads for the first time.  I taught a few years of the course at IU, from around 2004 to 2007, to grad students, but that was a totally different beast.  Let’s face it, I could throw 50 pages of dense research at them each week and they’d read it and get into great discussions based on the materials and their experiences.  My undergrads aren’t going to do that, and really, why would I even try.  This is more of a survey course, and that’s what it should be at this level.

This leaves me wondering how they are receiving the course only a few weeks in.  We’re going to go in the same direction until midterms so I thought it would be a good time to get feedback (so I could change direction if necessary).  I created a Google Form with just one question:

What is your impression of the course so far? Is there anything you would like to change? Anything that you’d like to do more of or do less of? Other topics that you would like to discuss?

I didn’t want or need to get more specific than this.  I wanted it to be easy and quick to answer and I think it is.

The results were ok with four people commenting from a very small class of 6 (yes, not my norm).  The feedback was generally positive with the usual suggestions for less homework (I’ll consider it).  One suggestion was for more emphasis on templates and other easy to design interfaces for immediate use in classes.  I think that this a great idea so I’m going to work this in a little more.  I’ll try to provide some templates for everything we do: Web page templates (Google Sites being one place), Blog templates (Blogger and WordPress), and I need to look for good templates for games, quizzes, and so forth.  I know where to look but I don’t have those off the top of my head.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to using this with other classes.  With the other classes, I’ll probably do it a little before midterms and modify the second half of the courses based on feedback.