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!