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.

Introducing the All-New Flipgrid

Editor's Note: As of June 18, 2018, all of Flipgrid (formally our premium "Flipgrid Classroom") is free! Check out the details over here!

Offering both educators and students a refreshed interface, slew of new features, and overall upgraded experience, the all-new Flipgrid is more powerful than ever and still innately simple. Learn how in the video below.

Unlimited Responses. Unlimited Topics. Unlimited Grids.

With Flipgrid 4.0 we've made our simple educator pricing even better. For $65 a year, teachers can now create as many grids and topics as they'd like, share with whoever they want, and collect an unlimited number of responses.

Take student conversation to the next level, literally.

We've heard it a lot: our users want to allow the members of their community to respond directly to each other’s responses. Now they can. Educators can enhance their active, social classroom by allowing students to build on other’s ideas or challenge a peer’s logic, provide direct feedback, or answer questions.

Say “cheese,” then say some more.

Flipgrid has been completely redesigned to make genuine discussion easier and more intuitive. Videos are higher quality, load faster, and can be viewed from any device.

More customization and more integration.

The refreshed admin dashboard lets you personalize grids with custom banners, toggle settings - including likes - on or off, and share or embed Flipgrid wherever you’d like.

Join the conversation, anywhere.

With a social-media-feel, the new Flipgrid Android and iOS apps are modeled on student’s familiarity with the apps they already use. They remain intuitive, discussion-focused, and free with an updated look and feel. Using your unique grid code, students can easily join the conversation from their mobile or tablet device.

Get on the grid.

Start your Flipgrid experience today with a free trial. Already a Flipgrid admin? All existing accounts have been automatically upgraded for free. Log in to start exploring!

Harvard Professor Emphasizes the Importance of Identifying Misconceptions

NPR reporter Anya Kamenetz interviewed Harvard's Director of the Science Education Department and professor, Dr. Philip Sadler, in her piece, "The Importance Of Getting Things Wrong." In the article, Dr. Sadler emphasizes the value of having students think out loud to identify their misconceptions.

Dr. Sadler praises Socratic teaching by "asking questions and having students think out loud." Crucial in all fields and especially applicable in STEAM, he conveys "if you don't understand the flaws in students' reasoning, you're not going to be able to dislodge their misconceptions and replace them with the correct concepts."

Many educators have shared they use Flipgrid for this exact purpose. One recent example is Dr. Ramesh Laungani, professor of Biology at Doane University. In his Flipgrid story, Dr. Laungani explains how Flipgrid enables him to challenge his students and analyze their learning. He notes that Flipgrid, "not only helped my students learn to clearly and concisely articulate ideas and questions that they had, but it also allowed me to identify any misconceptions."

Just as Dr. Laungani does, Dr. Sadler posits that great educators hone in on flawed reasoning and "give students exposure to the information and experience that will enable them to reason their way to the right answer." We love our innovative community of educators who do just this and use Flipgrid to amplify student voice, identify misconceptions, and empower students with enriched learning.

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.

Learning Out Loud - The Importance of Active, Engaged Video Discussion

California State University Teaching and Learning Innovations Specialist, Dr. Michelle Pacansky-Brock stresses the importance of active, engaged learning in her article “Learning Out Loud: Making Online Courses Meaningful and Accessible.”

Through her own research, Pacansky-Brock has discovered that students perform better when discussing content verbally. Specifically, she found “83 percent of students (n=82) reported an increased retention of information when expressing ideas through spoken language; 95 percent of students (n=82) reported that listening to peers led to an increased ability to reach the learning objectives; and 86 percent (n=109) agreed that learning out loud made them feel connected to their peers.”

To achieve these results, especially in an online course where face-to-face interaction is traditionally minimal or nonexistent, Pacansky-Brock recommends recorded video discussion. She states, “an asynchronous, multimodal learning environment that invites students to verbally converse with one another has been shown to improve the social and emotional elements of learning.” The power of video is valuable both in online courses and in traditional, face-to-face courses. In both cases, a continuous dialogue can extend beyond the space and time of a class period. Moreover, with the ability to rehearse their response, students can confidently showcase their addition to the discussion.

Pacansky-Brock also discusses the special attention multimodal learning environments require for learners with disabilities. She highlights, "accessibility is not simply a box to check ... [and] educational technology companies must ... value accessibility as a priority and actively listen to understand the needs of their clients." Flipgrid is constantly working to implement educator input and analyze accessibility recommendations and requirements.  Stay tuned for some big updates on accessibility!

We want everyone to join the discussion on Flipgrid because peer-to-peer, social learning is not just more effective, it’s also more enjoyable. As Pacansky-Brock concludes, “in short, voice and video conversations can take online learning from mandate to memorable.”

Boost your students’ learning and retention by welcoming them aboard Flipgrid.

Exercise the “Six C’s” with Flipgrid

In their book, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, co-authors Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, professor at Temple University, and Roberta Golinkoff of the University of Delaware, discuss the importance of engagement with children as they mature. During an interview with NPR reporter, Anya Kamenetz, the duo highlighted a few important notes from their work.

The authors challenge us to “change the whole definition of what success in school, and out of school, means," emphasizing the 21st-century report card with six C’s: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence. Explaining the six C’s in order of importance, co-author Hirsh-Pasek lists

  • The first, basic, most core is collaboration … It's building a community and experiencing diversity and culture. Everything we do, in the classroom or at home, has to be built on that foundation.
  • Communication comes next, because you can't communicate if you have no one to communicate with. This includes speaking, writing, reading and that all-but-lost art of listening.
  • Content is built on communication. You can't learn anything if you haven't learned how to understand language, or to read.
  • Critical thinking relies on content, because you can't navigate masses of information if you have nothing to navigate to.
  • Creative innovation requires knowing something ... You need to know something well enough to make something new.
  • And finally, confidence: You have to have the confidence to take safe risks.

All of the six C's are intrinsic elements of the Flipgrid experience. Flipgrid provides a space for collaboration and communication among your community of students. As an admin, you generate prompts for students to discus, thereby building content and generating critical thinking. Students practice critical thinking by learning to articulate their thoughts and analyzing the work of themselves and others. Building ingenuity, students become familiar with the content and identifying gaps in understanding, begin making connections, and spur creative innovation. Finally, Flipgrid builds confidence by allowing students to practice and re-record in whatever environment they feel most comfortable.

Ultimately, student success comes down to promoting safe risks. Golinkoff notes, "There isn't an entrepreneur or a scientific pioneer who hasn't had failures. And if we don't rear children who are comfortable taking risks, we won't have successes." Thank you to everyone in our educator community who use Flipgrid to encourage their students to take safe risks and build the confidence to be successful!