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.