As I start to plan for the 2020-2021 school year, I am determined to stay positive. I am focusing on what went well last year (in class and through distance learning) as well as what I can do better this year. As of now, I am planning to work in a hybrid model of in-class learning and distance learning. I am excited that our district is working on finding ways to safely provide instruction to our students in person.
One resource that I used in class and relied heavily on during distance learning is Flipgrid. Regardless of how the year unfolds, I am planning to take advantage of this wonderful free resource again this year. Today, I am sharing three of my favorite ways I used Flipgrid during distance learning. If you are reading this at a time when your school is no longer using distance learning, no worries. These activities work in the classroom as well!
If you are not familiar with Flipgrid, it is an awesome resource that allows students to record videos and share them with others in the class. Students can view and comment on each other’s videos. You can read more about it and set up your own free account here.
There are many uses for this site, but here are my three favorites.
Explain Mathematical Thinking
One of the challenges in distance learning was that it was difficult to see students mathematical thinking. I created several digital activities that required deep thinking. However, students only submitted the answers in most cases. I was able hear students explain through our conferences on Google Meet, but I was missing the component of students learning from each other.
Here is an example of a digital math activity I assigned to my students.
After students completed the activity, they went on Flipgrid to record their thinking. Students were also required to listen and respond to the three videos before theirs (at least). This allowed students to see other ways to solve the problem. It was also helpful for me to target my questioning when I met with students for our virtual conference.
How can this work at school?
Having everyone share their thinking will make students more accountable than if they know only a few will share. There will be some logistics to consider, as everyone can not be recording at once. Partner work/explanations should help with this. Another option would be to have students record on different days. When it is not your day to record, you can listen and respond.
Teaching students to give specific feedback is important. You can read more about fostering effective peer feedback here.
Expand on Reading Responses
Throughout distance learning, I had my students fill out various organizers about their daily reading. Periodically, I would have them expand their ideas on Flipgrid by providing more details and examples than were required on the organizer. I always modeled this by sharing my written response with them. (My written response was always based on a read aloud so all students were familiar with it.) I also created a video for my students to use as a model.
Here is an example of an organizer I used. (The boxes automatically respond as students type.)
Details that could be added in the video include:
*Why do you think so?
*Explain your connection.
*Why do you feel that way?
*What about it reminds you of that?
How can this work at school?
Videos can never replace the valuable one on one conferences that we can have at school. However, they make a great alternative for a handful of students you are not conferring with on a given day. Students can work on applying the skills that are practiced during conferences and small groups and record their thoughts while the teachers works with others,
Practicing fluency on Flipgrid can be done at home or at school. Students should practice a “just right” or easy text several times. This works best if they pick a part with strong dialogue or action. Once students feel confident in their ability to read the passage fluently, they can record themselves on Flipgrid. Students can listen to their reading partners and offer compliments.
I want to stress that we worked on all of these skills (including feedback) in class before distance learning, and I provided both a written example and a sample video in all cases. I met virtually with students as needed to help with elaborating.
Regardless of how the 2020-21 school year unfolds, I am sure to use all three of these with my students (as well as others). Do you have a favorite way to use Flipgrid? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!