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PRO’S CORNER: KEA Teacher of the Year Lisa Hanson Details How Flipgrid Can Boost Your Classroom Engagement

By Lisa Hanson, NBCT

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Ah, summer! The time when we put aside lesson planning, shut off email, and try to catch up on some much-needed sleep. However, this is also a time for us to attend informative professional development sessions, read professional books we didn’t have time to do during the school year, and explore some educational websites. During the height of the pandemic, you were probably very overwhelmed with the various websites that could be used to help with your instruction. As a former technology teacher, I, too, was overwhelmed.

As many schools have re-opened and are moving to one-to-one devices, we are constantly searching for the “best” and “greatest” website that will make our instruction engaging. But, like anything else, learning a new website can be time consuming and frustrating. It’s easier to stick with sites and programs we already know, just so we can stay in our comfort zone. That’s why I would like to introduce you to Flipgrid. For many, Flipgrid is a weekly, if not daily, tool. For others, you have heard of it, but have never stopped to learn more about it.

You may ask: What is Flipgrid? Flipgrid is a FREE and unlimited video response platform that brings student voice into the classroom. This website gives students a different and creative venue to share responses. For example, they can reflect on their learning, add discussion to topics, and help work on their speaking and listening skills.

When a former co-worker introduced me to Flipgrid, I immediately knew this site would give my shy and quiet students a chance to literally have a voice in their education. I immediately tested out the website by doing a “get to know you” type activity, something I encourage everyone to try first. This helps you iron out the kinks and lets you know what works best for your classroom. The nice thing is that students are quick learners of computer tasks. Give them a task, and they will find ways of manipulating the website more than you will ever know. So, no worries educators. You can be their navigator, not their driver!

Let me tell you more…

Nuts and bolts of Flipgrid:

So, how does it work? Basically, educators create a “Group” on Flipgrid. You can have as many Groups as you want. For example, each class can be a Group, or you can just have one for all your classes (“Mrs. S. Group”, “Math Group”, etc.). For those of you who share classes with others, you can add “co-leads” to your Groups. You can then share a link for the Group with your students via Google Classroom (or similar platform) or you can give them a “Join Code” for them to enter on the Flipgrid site.

 

Within a Group, you can set up a video “Topic.” These are the actual tasks or assignments you want your students to answer. You can also have as many Topics within a Group that you would like. Topics can be very detailed and include videos, images, links, GIFs, and much more. You can even set the time limits for their responses, from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. For example, you can have a Topic that asks students to count by 10s up to 100 and give them one minute to complete it. Just like the Groups, you have the option to share a Topic link or give them a Join Code. This will lead them directly to the task.

 

Sounds like a basic video submission, right? Well, the “fun” thing about Flipgrid is that students have many choices when responding. This is where the engagement comes in to play. Students can also add emojis, stickers, and picture frames to their own responses. They can also view other students’ videos and make comments. Trust me, the kids LOVE it! I know what you’re thinking, though. Don’t worry! You have the option to turn off those features if you want. If you are looking for a direct answer without the frills, then you have that option.

 

Ideas for classroom use:

Flipgrid can be used in any subject with any grade level. In general, this site can be a great tool for pre-, post-, and formative assessments. There are a multitude of ways Flipgrid can be used in subject areas. For instance, in math, students can describe their steps to a math problem, or compare and contrast between various geometrical shapes. In reading, students can provide book predictions or post reviews on books, movies, or TV shows. I found Flipgrid especially helpful when monitoring students’ reading fluency. A passage was given to them (on paper), and students recorded themselves reading the passage. I could then review the recordings in my own time to assess their fluency.

If you specialize in social studies, students can record themselves discussing current events or ask students to compare similar versions of historical accounts they have read. For science, have students share the steps of their science experiment in a video or choose a favorite plant or animal and describe it using all five senses.

Don’t worry arts, physical education, and foreign language teachers. Flipgrid has you covered, too! Students can play a scale using a musical instrument, practice a specific sports skill and have another student help them record it, or record themselves speaking a foreign language for playback or assessment.

This only scratches the surface at how you can use the site. The number of ideas is truly endless!

Getting started:

Still overwhelmed? It’s okay. Let me offer you some suggestions on how to get started. Send an email to your staff to find out who has some experience with Flipgrid so they can help you. With millions of users on the site, you are bound to know someone who uses it. Attend a local professional development this summer or when able. These sessions will help you understand the nuts and bolts of the website, which I have mentioned. Once you know this, then exploring the fancier features will be easier.

If you want to go ahead and explore on your own, I highly recommend you check out the “Discovery” part of the site. These are pre-made Topics made by other Flipgrid users which are available for any subject and any grade level. Find a Topic and add it to a Group you’ve made. The other benefit of these is they are customizable! You can change the wording of the Topics to suit your needs. Be the student and try one yourself to see how they work.

Also, try out the “Shorts” part of the site. You can record short videos (up to 10 minutes) and then share the link with your students and their families. This is a great way to introduce yourself, teach an instructional topic, or send families a positive contact about their child. They’re quick to make and sometimes easier than sending a long informational email.

Want to learn more about Flipgrid? Sign-up for “FlipFest” on June 28, 2022. This is a one-night event, which you can attend virtually. The night will feature news from the community of Flipgrid users and will provide upcoming information about the future of Flipgrid. You can register at: https://info.flipgrid.com/events/flipfest.html

Need something that will engage your students? Try Flipgrid this coming school year. Let your students have a voice!