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.

Conquering Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards

We’re grateful to be among a community of educators who go above and beyond to ensure they’re inspiring their students in innovative ways. When challenged with the Next Generation Science or Common Core Standards, Flipgrid teachers exceed “standard” and stimulate active, engaged learning.

We've identified a series of ways in which your students can achieve these objectives with Flipgrid. For additional standards-aligned integration docs, visit our new Flipgrid Integration Center.

Build a community of young pioneers in Scientific investigation.

  • Conjure a range of radical questions by creating a topic for students to inquire about the natural or designed word (K-2-ETS1-1).
  • Pass out the goggles and lab coats, task students with designing an experiment, and then ask them to reflect on results (MS-PS1-2).
  • Create a Flipgrid topic for scientific inquiry and revelation by having students identify connections between seemingly unconnected findings (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.9).
  • Have students explain variations of various traits in the human population (HS-LS3-3).

Use peer-to-peer learning to grow and develop English Language Arts skills.

Stimulate another level of cognitive thinking by having students verbalize their Mathematical problem solving.

  • Instead of simply jotting down the result, ask that students walk you through how they derived the answer (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1).
  • Have them explain their reasoning or critique their peer's reasoning (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3).

Spur debate and exploration in Social Studies.

  • Have students interpret graphical information (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.7).
  • After studying a historical event, conduct a debate wherein students "pick a side" on a historical decision, defend their arguments, and respond to their opponents (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.8).

Continue making your classroom a hub of powerful, active learning by implementing these Flipgrid strategies and, in doing so, create an enthusiastic, empowered community.

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.