Flipgrid Story: Jen Saarinen

Jen Saarinen teaches math at Kickemuit Middle School in the Bristol Warren Regional School District in Rhode Island. She teaches the same group of students for two years, in both sixth and seventh grade. One of the biggest challenges she faces is getting students to speak their math thinking and to critique their peers. After seeing Jen in this Bristol Warren Regional School District video, we reached out to learn more about her Flipgrid Story.

How did you discover Flipgrid?

I was introduced to Flipgrid at a breakout session during the 2015 Digital Literacy Institute held in Providence, RI. Renee Hobbs ran the session. She highlighted her use of Flipgrid in her higher ed classes as well as K-12 teachers in Rhode Island who had used Flipgrid the school year before. I immediately started to think about how I could take Flipgrid into my math classroom.

How did you get your students on board?

I was so excited to start to use Flipgrid in my classroom! I shared that excitement and also explained that as a member of our district's Digital Learning Team, I needed to learn new things and incorporate different technology into the classroom. The students were quick to jump on board when they found out that they got to take a selfie! I also prefaced our use of the app in that if it didn't work for us, we'd find something different. Fortunately, we didn't have to find another app for our needs.

How often do you use Flipgrid?

Last year I tried to use Flipgrid at least once a month during class and once a month as a HW task to be completed. Students often recorded in partners or small groups for the "during class" assignments.

What’s an example of a topic you’ve posed on Flipgrid?

Standards for Mathematical Practices: "Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them" (SMP1), and "Construct Viable Arguments and Critique the Reasoning of Others" (SMP3).
For this topic students worked in small groups to complete and record responses to a couple of multi-step math problems that were posed to them. The initial responses were not viewable to other students until I was ready for them to work on SMP 3. At this time, I allowed all responses to be viewable and assigned students the task of critiquing the work of other groups who completed the same problems. This allowed students to look at and critique the work of students in other math classes. Students completed a paper response form that was shared with the group who recorded a response.
Teach others how to use this technology!
I assigned two homework assignments where the students had to ask/beg/convince a parent/guardian/adult to complete a math problem and then record the response on Flipgrid. Students were then asked to use the same skills practiced in the previous topic to critique the work that the parents recorded. This was an awesome experience and I was proud to have almost 90% of my parents participate! Students were able to see how math thinking varies among people, especially across different "generations" of math teaching/learning.
Memorial Day Reflection
Upon attending our first Memorial Day Presentation at our school, which included previous service members in our community, we asked our team to reflect on how their Memorial Day Celebration may differ after attending the presentation.
Staff Introductions for our Back to School 2016-2017
I pitched the idea to my Principal to have our staff introduce themselves through Flipgrid as a way to build excitement for the year ahead, a simple way for others to see how Flipgrid works, and a way for our families to learn something interesting about the teachers!
Student introductions to our team.
Again, a simple way for all students to familiarize themselves with the app before being asked to complete a math-related response.

How has Flipgrid impacted your students? What feedback have you heard from students (both positive and negative)?

The biggest impact is that Flipgrid has prompted student communication of math thinking by ALL students, not just the ones who raise hands during class discussion. Flipgrid allows students to hear multiple ways of problem solving and learn from each other.

How has Flipgrid influenced the way you educate?

My ability to have every child communicate (and preserve) their math thinking and see progress throughout the year, or how it is applied to different areas of math helps immensely with the way that I can continue to plan for student motivation and success in my classroom.

How do you plan on using Flipgrid moving forward?

I am psyched that Flipgrid has taken into consideration the needs/requests of educators who are using the app across the country and beyond. I am anxious to plan a lesson that will require students to respond to another's student response, especially since this feature is new this year. I am constantly thinking about creative ways that I can continue to use Flipgrid in the math classroom and beyond!

What an awesome use of Flipgrid, Jen! We're grateful for your innovative, yet practical approach to engaging students in learning mathematics.

In addition to seeing her Flipgrid Story (above), check out that aforementioned Bristol Warren Regional School District video (below), where Jen discusses how Flipgrid allows her ninety-five students to learn with and from each other through explaining their problem solving and then evaluating that of their peers.

Flipgrid Story: Nicole LaFave

Nicole is a 9th and 10th grade English teacher in Fort Mill, South Carolina. One of the biggest challenges she faces is class discussion, which is often dominated by a few outgoing individuals. She turned to Flipgrid, hoping it would help her provide a voice to all her students, especially her quietest students. 

When we reached out to Nicole, she quickly and jubilantly responded “my students and I absolutely LOVE Flipgrid! It's a great way for my shy students to participate in class discussions... and for my not shy students to show off their personalities in those same discussions. I can't wait to use Flipgrid with my new group of energetic 9th grade kiddos!” We were thrilled to hear how Nicole empowers all of her students with Flipgrid, so we followed up to find out more.

In which courses do you use Flipgrid and among how many students?  

I use it in all of my 9th and 10th grade English courses. I teach all levels of students, from Inclusion to Honors classes. Depending on the course, class size ranges from 10-30 students. 

Describe when you first implemented Flipgrid into your classroom. How did you get your students on board? What discussions did you spur? 

I first used Flipgrid in March 2015. One of the wonderful things about English class is that literary discussions can go different directions in different classes on a daily basis. However, sometimes my students don't take it in the direction I'm trying to go. Instead of the teacher getting them there, however, I realized it might be more beneficial for their peers to point them in that direction. I decided to create a Flipgrid for my Honors English 2 students in which they compared the character of Cassius from Julius Caesar to a modern day real-life person or fictional character. The conversation ended up being so great that I tried it again the next week with my lower level English 1 students on a discussion about Romeo & Juliet. In the back of my mind, I thought that Flipgrid might be best for my students who were academically upper-level, but I couldn't have been more wrong!
I don't know how I got my students on board... I sort of made it mysterious in that I didn't tell them what we were doing; I just pulled them out into the hall to record their responses. When all was said and done, they were excited to see themselves and their peers on the big screen.

How often do you use Flipgrid with your students?

In the past, I've used it a few times a semester, but this year, I'm committing myself to doing some sort of Flipgrid activity every other week in class.

How do you generate topics to discuss on Flipgrid?

The topics mostly come from what we would have discussed in a Socrative Seminar setting. While these seminars are great and beneficial in a lot of ways, they often take 1-3 class periods to complete. Flipgrid has allowed me to open up more in-class time for other activities.

What’s an example of a topic you’ve sparked on Flipgrid?

The Shakespearean Insults grid has to be my favorite. This was meant to be something simple and fun and it turned into a grid that was viewed more than 3,000 times in less than a week. Students recorded the insults in private (I thought it might make them more willing to get really insulting -- we've done this live in a class before and few students are willing to really get into it). They turned out so well (some of my silent students shocked me with their sass!), that I decided to turn it into a competition of sorts where the videos with the most views/likes would receive a prize. I feel pretty convinced that every 9th grade student at my school saw the video and voted.

How do you plan on using Flipgrid this year? Do you have any new ideas?

I tried a new idea last week: I printed out 20 random questions (like "If your house was on fire and you could only save three items, what would they be?" and "If you could time travel only once, where would you go and why?"). Students selected one question and had the night to think about their answers. The next day, we recorded the questions and answers on Flipgrid.  I then shared the grid with students and parents (and we even watched it all the way through in class). While there was not necessarily any academic merit to this activity, I enjoyed getting to know a little about my students and I think they enjoyed getting to know a little about each other.
I'd like to continue using Flipgrid in the way that I have -- to spark discussion and for students to see and hear the responses of their classmates, but I'm constantly looking for new ways to use it. 

What is your favorite aspect of Flipgrid?

Just one? I love everything about Flipgrid. It gives all my students a voice. In my 9 years as an educator, I've never been able to say that about any other product.

In what ways has Flipgrid influenced the way you educate? 

I'm an English teacher, so I make my students write. Lots. Because of this, I'm always aware of their literary thoughts. But some of my most brilliant students over the years have been the quiet ones. I used to beg them to contribute to class discussions to no avail. I even got to a point of desperation where some of our class discussions were graded (this was not a proud moment as a teacher, I'll admit). With Flipgrid, I no longer have to worry about my quiet students. They can simply take an iPad in the hall or record in the privacy of their own home and VOILA! -- they are instantly a part of the discussion.

Your students are fortunate to have you, Nicole! Your story is inspiring and we’re thrilled to have you in our Flipgrid family. We look forward to hearing about your continued success and promotion of student voice!

Flipgrid Story: Sam Richards

Sam Richards, sociologist, Penn State University Professor, TED Speaker, and among "The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," uses Flipgrid in his race relations course of more than 750 students in one room, the largest such course in the US.

Soc 119 Race Relations has politically incorrect conversations that change the way students think. With such a large class, it's impossible to have every student participate in such an important discussion. That's why Sam uses Flipgrid to host conversations within his 51 discussion groups and have communication with students outside of their assigned groups. He appreciates that Flipgrid "allows students to … be more candid than they would be in … face-to-face communications and, because it’s only ninety seconds, it allows them, or forces them, to actually think about their responses before they start talking."

In a Penn State News article, Julie Eble quotes Richards with, “Enabling students to use their cellphones improves their research skills and creates great discussions points … [and] with Flipgrid they have the opportunity to re-examine the world and challenge what they believe to be their place in it.”

We're intrigued! Do you have room for a few extra students, Sam?

Hear Sam's Flipgrid Story below.

Flipgrid Story: Ramesh Laungani

Flipgrid empowers educators around the world to actively engage students with their curriculum and with one another. After seeing a few of his awesome tweets and watching Doane University’s Dr. Ramesh Laungani explain how Flipgrid enhanced his classroom by coaching his first-year biology students to “clearly and concisely articulate ideas and questions” and enabling him to identify and clarify misconceptions, we reached out to learn more about Ramesh’s #FlipgridStory.

Where do you use Flipgrid?

I used Flipgrid in two courses that I taught this past Spring semester. One course was the second introductory biology class in our 3 course core series. This class was primarily first-year students. We had 3 sections of this course and each section had about 30 students.
I also used Flipgrid in a smaller seminar type course with 8 first year STEM students (from a variety of science disciplines). Flipgrid was also used in 2 upper level biology courses [at] Doane University by my colleague Dr. Brad Elder. He used it in his Evolution class and a class focused on upper level students designing experiments for their senior research projects.

How easy was it to start using Flipgrid with your curriculum?

Everyone in my department learned about Flipgrid only 3-4 days before the spring semester began, and as soon as we saw what it could do we adopted it into our courses for this past spring. So within a matter of 72 hours Flipgrid was fully integrated into my introductory biology course syllabus as if I had had it planned for months. Making a grid and adding questions (both video and text) could not have been any easier. I was also able to add questions easily on the fly during the semester as the class needed it. For my seminar course it was the same story, easy!

How often do you use Flipgrid with your students?

In my introductory biology course we had the students create lecture video summaries that related a case study from class to a large biology concept (we called it the 'Bottom Line') that could be applied to many biological systems, not just the one discussed in class.  We had the students make a total of 13 videos throughout the semester (so nearly 1 per week).
In my seminar I had my students summarize articles about recent scientific discoveries and had other students "reply" to those videos explaining what was so interesting about the idea in the first video.  This was done about 3 times. Thus, I am particularly excited about the "Reply" feature coming out in August.

What other resources do you use in your classroom?

My biology class is a pretty active classroom. There is a lot of small group work with students predicting experimental results based on hypotheses. I podcast all of my lectures using software called ProfCast. I have been doing this for years and this technology has been adopted by many of my colleagues. This has allowed me to flip my classroom and acts as a great review tool for my students.

In what ways have Flipgrid influenced the way you educate?

I am an ecologist by training, specifically an ecologist who studies how carbon cycles in ecosystems. This gives me a deep understanding of topics like human-driven climate change. As such, I have also recognized the importance of being able to clearly and concisely articulate complicated ideas orally. Therefore, oral communication has always been a significant component of my courses. Flipgrid has provided an absolutely amazing way of allowing my students to work on these exact skills that are so important. For a scientist to be able to clearly articulate themselves is a skill that takes practice and Flipgrid allows for that skill to be developed in the young scientists that I work with everyday.

How else have you used Flipgrid?

Outside of the classroom I have used Flipgrid to help setup a SciComm event here in Nebraska.

Thank you, Ramesh, we're grateful to have you in our Flipgrid Family and look forward to being part of your continued success!

Hear more from Ramesh below.

Thanking Our Military with #thankvets

Following the great Spring Lake Park Innovation Night, Chris Balmer, an awesome Flipgrid user and Learning Ventures Manager at Woodcrest Spanish Immersion, sparked an exciting idea. A week out from Armed Forces Day (May 21st), Chris decided to use Flipgrid to thank our military.

Using #thankvets, Chris had his students share why they’re thankful for our veterans. He then shared the link and encouraged people to not only watch the current videos, but also add their own. The grid quickly gained attention and Chris kept the grid active as we approached Memorial Day.

The local NBC station, Kare11, caught wind of the project and broadcast a special segment on Saturday, May 28. Today, #thankvets has over 200 videos and 6,000 views!

Fantastic idea, Chris, we’re honored Flipgrid could help students thank our military!

Making Learning Stick

 

Director of Learning Tech & Innovation Dean Pearman (@deanpearman) uses Flipgrid in his classroom to make learning stick. As a guest on a recent episode of Teach Tech Play (@teachtechplay), Dean introduces the way he uses Flipgrid for Friday standups in his classroom. This activity asks students create video reflections about their learning from the week. Dean focuses student responses by asking three questions:

  1. What am I doing?

  2. Where am I going?

  3. How am I going to get there?

From these curated student reflections, Dean is able to gauge what type of individualized feedback he provides to each student to move their learning to the next stage.

TeachTechPlay is a monthly web-show challenge. Educators are invited to share ideas, lessons & tools. Teach Tech Play is a monthly web-show challenge, designed by teachers for teachers; where educators come together and share ideas that they use in the classroom. To watch the episode 20, click here.