Our Flipgrid Explorer Experience

The following is a guest post from Beth Mistretta. Beth told us she is "an ordinary teacher of extraordinary fourth graders." While we definitely agree with her on the second half of that, we have to correct her on the first part: Beth is an amazing educator and celebrated Flipgrid Ambassador. She teaches in New Jersey and decided to take her students on an adventure early this year by joining the Flipgrid Explorer Series: Fossils. Beth's class was one of the participating classes that won a six-million-year-old whale fossil from Paleontologist Jason Osborne. After seeing her student's reaction on Twitter, we followed up to learn more.

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In my sixteen years in the classroom, I have been so fortunate to learn and grow alongside my students. My passion is to enhance my students' learning and prepare them for a future with interactive communication skills through educational technology.

I became a Flipgrid Ambassador several months ago and was thrilled to join the innovative, inspirational, and supportive community. There's no question I have #FlipgridFever: there are not enough days in the year for all of the ways I want to use it to enhance student learning and amplify student voice. That being said, I wasn’t ready for the Flipgrid Explorer Series...especially during the first weeks of the school year. This is the time of the year for getting to know each other and learning the routines that keep my classroom running smoothly. I had every detail of the first week of school planned until a nine year-old aspiring paleontologist stepped into my classroom. There was only one thing to do. On the third day of school, we joined the series.

I introduced the class to Jason Osborne, and they hit the ground running. I was impressed by their knowledge and engagement. One student sparked our first step, but his classmates were right on his heels. When students started participating in the Topics from home, I knew they were hooked. And just when I thought the engagement had peaked, Jason Osborne personally responded to several of my students. My students were begging for more Flipgrid!

We wrapped up the series by rummaging through the basement of our 106 year-old school, digging for antiques. After two discussion Topics, Jason introduced his final week's prompt: an antique challenge that implored students to describe, as he had done with fossils, what a selected antique told the students about the time it came from. In addition to our school, students explored their grandparents’ attics and memories. The number of videos on the grid rose to over 1500 videos with over 300 hours of engagement. Whoever won the 6 million year old whale fossil didn’t matter; student voices were amplified and learning was no longer confined to the walls of my “antique” classroom. My fantastic fourth graders did win a 6 million year old whale fossil and the celebration in the Tweet above says it all.

-Beth Mistretta