Building Community on the First Day of School

The following is a guest post from Flipgrid Ambassador Kristin Merrill. Kristin works as a fourth grade language arts teacher with the Collier County school district in Naples, Florida. Over the past ten years she has worked on developing her teaching into a model that fits all learners as she strives to digitally differentiate. Connect with her on Twitter @FriendsinFourth.

I was recently asked why there is so much #FlipgridFever and if I really thought it was going to “burn” for awhile. How can it truly be integrated in an academic way? Did I really see myself using this tool daily in the classroom? The answer was an immediate — YES!

What makes this platform so appealing is its versatility and simplicity. It is applicable in almost every grade and subject area and can be used by students of all ages. Flipgrid can be utilized in a 1:1 classroom or in a room with one lone teacher device. This tool gives students the opportunity to share their voice and once they see how easy it is they aren’t going to want to stop!

Since becoming an ambassador, one of the most frequently asked questions I hear is how can Flipgrid be introduced to students and what is the best way to do so. I say unleash the student voice on the first day of school!

16 Ways to Use Flipgrid On the First Day of School.

  1. Favorite Summer Memory: Talking about what you did over the summer is a perfect way to get students talking. Students can share what they did, then watch videos from fellow classmates and comment with personal connections they have.

  2. Admin Introductions:  On the first day of school the day seems to fly by and there is little time for meeting others outside of the classroom. For students new to the school, the more familiar faces are the more comfortable they become. Create a grid and allow teachers, cafeteria staff, librarians, art, music and PE teachers to all introduce themselves. You could watch it while students come in, during transitions or at the end of the day after you pack up. Take it even further, and you could have your students record replies to them explaining what they are looking forward to learning or doing with them in the upcoming year. **

  3. Goal Setting:  Students come in to a new class excited about the year ahead. Some have big plans and allowing students the time to set goals is a meaningful way to get them thinking about what they want to accomplish. It is also a topic that can be revisited throughout the year with “updates” recorded by the students in regards to the goals they set and if they have any new ones! As you have students update their goals you can send home to parents as an update.

  4. Guess Who All About Me: If you work with older students, allow them to have some fun on the first day with a little #appsmashing. Students record introduction videos using apps like Snapchat, Chatterpix, Apple Clips, etc. where they do not show their face or use their voice. They can even identify themselves to their video with a #nickname instead of using their own name.  Classmates then try and guess who made each video. This a nice way to introduce each other without making those camera shy kids nervous on day one.

  5. Two Truths and a Lie: Put those surveys down and hide the BINGO boards — get students sharing and talking on the first day with this fun game. Students brainstorm a list of three facts about themselves and record the video. Two of the facts are true and one is made up. Classmates can respond to their peers’ videos and try to guess which of the three “facts” is the made up one!

  6. Summer Reading Talk: Hopefully students read over the summer and you could have them respond with books they read while out of the classroom. Some districts (like mine!) require certain students to all read the same book over the summer. This would be an easy way to get them talking while integrating a core subject area.

  7. Question of the Day: Start what could be a daily or weekly routine in class by posing a question to the class and allowing them time to record and respond after reflecting.

  8. Classroom Rules: As teachers we often spend time during the first days and weeks setting up a classroom environment where students feel safe and included. But, It's important for our students to have a say in their learning environment as well. With Flipgrid, students could respond with rules or criteria they want that can later be discussed or voted on.

  9. I Wish You Knew: This spin on the ordinary introductions gives students the chance to express something that they wish the teacher/classmate knew about them. This is an easy way to have students share something special or positive about themselves.

  10. One Word Summary: Give students times to brainstorm and then they give one word they would when describing how they learn. They can explain their choice while introducing themselves in the process.  

  11. Show and Tell:  Students get a chance to record something that they want to share with the class. This can be an object from home, a special talent, memory, story or simply something fun and unique about themselves. This can extend to home or throughout the week.

  12. Family introductions: If you are looking for a way to get parents involved, send students home with the job of introducing their family to the class. “Family” can include pets, extended family, whomever the child is living with at home. Parents can see their child engaged and get to participate themselves while classmates can learn a little more about their peers!

  13. Phone a Friend: Students record videos asking questions to the classmates from last year. (Eg. New fourth graders asking now fifth graders questions) Students ask the outgoing class questions about the teacher, expectations and content covered. Great way to get more classes in the building familiar with Flipgrid and also helps build familiarity within the student body. **

  14. Find Someone Who... : Students pose a question and other students respond if they fall into that category. This is an easy way for students to start making connections to others while learning about each other. **

  15. Global Goals: There are many organizations teachers can connect with in regards to thinking globally. Maybe start off the year asking students to reflect on some global issues that are important to them while brainstorming ways to help. Considering joining classrooms around the world on flipgrid.com/whatif and/or flipgrid.com/globalvoice!

  16. Special Talents: Have students showcase a special talent or interest that they have. This could be done in the classroom or at home that night. Some examples could include singing a song, reciting a poem, demonstrating flexibility, showing a painting, demonstrating a sport, etc.

**You can do more with some of these ideas by using Flipgrid Classroom - feel free to use my promo code KRISTINMERRILL for a free trial!

Do you have another idea? Tweet it out and use the hashtag #FlipgridFever!  Looking forward to hearing from you.