How to create a Flipped Learning System

Welcome! This post is part of my Flipped Learning series. For more information on the magic of the flipped classroom (and what I'm even talking about) check out this page.

I've got tutorials on free flipped learning tools like:

  • How to harness the power of Youtube and the ESL community & even make your own videos
  • How to record audio to introduce a lesson's topic or grammar point ahead of class
  • How to send pre-quizzes to my students with google forms
  • How to make digital flash cards for your students to study before class
  • And just when you thought you'd collapse under all this great information, I'll show you the lesson planning system that not only ties it all together, but actually saves you oodles of time while giving more value to your students.

Alright, on to the lesson!

We know that flipped learning is great for the student. But what about the teacher? The key to making flipped learning easy and profitable for you is to have a system.

After you create a great audio exercise or a killer deck of vocabulary flash cards, or you find the perfect youtube video, where do you keep it so you can send it again and again and again? Seems an obvious question, but really, where? How do you know what to send to whom and when?

Paper-based management systems are totally out, or you're going to be writing down links that are 87 characters long (and getting them wrong). 

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You could create a word doc or a spreadsheet with a list of links. But does that list tell you exactly what you have to pre-send to next week's classes, all in one glance? 

And how can you know what your students should study for next week's lesson, if you don't know what next week's lesson will be?

Okay, before I twist your head in knots, I want you to know you can do this, and you can set it up in a step-by-step system that will rock your teaching world. I'm going to help. Let's get started.

How to use TRELLO

to automate your teaching life

I use Trello because it's easy, responsive and I can personalize everything. You might be a app developer and want to rig up a digital teachers' lounge for yourself—hats off to you. For the rest of us, I recommend free, quick & easy. Here's how I do it.

1. Get your links together. Your materials need to be accessible at all times, whether you're teaching from home, at school or out and about. There is nothing worse than realizing you left your lesson plan on your home computer and having to recreate a lesser version 20 minutes before class starts. Or realizing that the audio file you created for class is at home on your hard drive. Putting all your materials on the cloud is non-negotiable. 

You can house all your materials on Trello. I upload lesson plans, exercises I’ve scanned from textbooks, activities I’ve found on the internet, timelines, etc. With a free Trello account you can upload any document up to 10MB. If I have a document that’s larger, like an audio file or a Powerpoint presentation for my online students, I can simply store it in Google drive and link it to the Trello card.

Here's what a typical Lesson card looks like in my Trello for TEFL system. I can see right on every single lesson card, exactly what materials I have saved to the back of the card.>>

Front of the TRELLO for TEFL lesson card

And when I open the back of the card, I have immediate access to every file, exercise, sound file, youtube link, & lesson plan that is related to that lesson, ready to send to students, print for my lesson or teach online.

Back of the TRELLO for TEFL lesson card

See that copy & paste email at the bottom? That's the flipped learning magic. You took 10 minutes to make that deck of quizlet flash cards, saved the link to your lesson card, and you will spend no more than nano seconds to send the cards each time you teach the "A2 Clothes & Accessories" lesson. But your students will get huge benefits, again and again, without added effort on your part. 

With Trello, I have all my lesson plans and exercises accessible and printable from any computer phone or tablet.  I also have all my notes about individual student progress and even about the best way to present Future Continuous.

What was that really great visual demonstration I drew on the board last week? Next time I'll just snap a photo and save it to my lesson card so it's always there where I need it.

Grammar lesson cards come equipped with form, function, board-able example sentences and teaching tips, which you can whip out on your phone before class, just to refresh.


2. Know who you're teaching, what you're teaching, and when you're teaching it.

Having everything you could possibly need to teach on the back or your lesson card is only the beginning of what you need. In my TRELLO for TEFL system, we set up the student board so every private student (and full class) has an automatic syllabus pre-planned from the intake phase. The system comes with a Level Assessment Test so you can not only assess the perfect level to begin your lessons, but uncover holes in their English learning, and add those lower level lessons to their syllabus.

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The beauty of the Trello platform (totally free!) is that it's versatile. If one student needs or wants a particular lesson, it's drop-and-drag easy to add that lesson card into their syllabus, or to specialize according to their hobbies, jobs and whatever topics excite them. You can see what you taught two months ago, what you'll teach two months from now, and most importantly, what you'll teach next week—all automatically.

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In one click you can view all your lessons on your calendar and sync it right up to iCal or Google Calendar. Now you know exactly what flipped lessons you need to send, weeks in advance.

When it's time to lesson plan and send flipped learning materials, you can see at a glance, what's already been planned. In this system, you never plan the same lesson twice. All your materials go on the relevant card and you're never hunting or scavenging the web. You're only tweaking and making the lesson better, each time you teach it.

This system may look flashy and beyond what you think you can manage, but let me tell you, it's exactly the opposite. As you grow your list of private students, or take on new full classes, you're adding to the unpaid administrative time you're constantly trying to reduce.

With the right system, you can not only keep track of your flipped learning lessons, but completely automate all the tasks that are keeping you from from taking on more students or taking that extra vacation. I'd love to show you more about how I automate it all!

Happy teaching!