For a couple of years I’ve thrown around the idea of starting a blog. You know, the way you contemplate something between planning, grading, and all of the other things that fall into your priority list. In the classroom, I don’t wait. I discover new ideas, create new ways to use them in my classroom, and just do it. Often times that includes visiting fellow teachers and brainstorming, talking the ideas out, and sometimes even practicing how a project will go, especially if it involves the use of a new app. Together, the students and I figure out what works and what doesn’t work, and I revisit and revise. Why should blog writing be any different? So finally, instead of thinking about it, I’m actually doing it.
The real push came from discovering Flipgrid. Suddenly Flipgrid was everywhere on Twitter. It was showing up in all of the edchats I was participating in, and educators in my PLN that I highly respected were encouraging teachers to give it a go. Finally, Matt Miller, Ditch That Textbook author, integrated Flipgrid as part of his #ditchbook edchat one week. That was smart. It forced us to actually interact with the tool, and once you’ve participated in a grid, you start thinking of all of the possibilities for your own classroom.
If you’ve used or are using Flipgrid already, feel free to skip this introduction and jump straight to the Choose Your Own Adventure information that I’m super excited about implementing, and I think that you might be excited to try something like it too! For the newbies, here’s a quick introduction to using Flipgrid. First create your free account. With this account, you can create one grid, but it can have multiple topics. This is a great way to play around with it on your own, with other teachers, or even with a class. A paid subscription is offered that allows the creation of unlimited grids and some extra tools such as teacher feedback, and you can upgrade at any time.
Once you’re in, you begin creating your grid, not unlike interacting with Google Classroom. You can customize your grid picture, name the grid, and make a few decisions about the security and privacy of your grid. The following are the default settings of a new grid:
What I like is that I can choose to password protect it so that it’s only visible to those people that have the password that I create.
The next step is to create a topic within the grid and share the grid code or link with the participants. When you create a topic, you can make your own video to introduce the topic, or you can type your question or topic out. The students, though, have to respond with a video. In the free account, student responses can be up to 1 minute and 30 seconds long, and they always have the option to review the video before posting it, so they really are in control of their posts! For students who may be a little camera shy, you can ease them into it by allowing them to record their response while having the camera pointing at another object. Students can even respond to classmates’ videos. I’ve been impressed with their excitement, and since I teach lit, it has been a great tool to assess whether they’re able to use evidence to back up their opinions. Even on days when I haven’t posted a topic, I’ve had students ask if I would create one.
Currently, my eighth grade house is sharing technology, so we sign out an iPad cart or the house computers (without cameras) when they’re available. That means that when I want to use Flipgrid, the students use the free app on the iPads or their smartphones if they’ve downloaded the app on them. Before unleashing the app on my students, I did have a few teachers on my team help me out by logging in as a student and participating in the grid, just to make sure I was aware of any questions that might come up since I operate my account from my laptop. I definitely recommend this; if nothing else, it’s good for a laugh.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Next year my school is going 1:1 with Chromebooks. Knowing that, I wanted to start utilizing Flipgrid frequently and for meaningful tasks, things students get excited about. During an #xplap chat on gamification, I had the idea that I’d like to use Flipgrid in a Choose Your Own Adventure style of activity. I wasn’t sure of the logistics, but I was positive that I had to do this and that it would be a great way to start the 2017-2018 school year.
The creators of Flipgrid and their team are amazing at brainstorming with you, answering questions, and offering support. Don’t believe me? Check them out on Twitter with the handle @flipgrid. After talking with Charlie Miller, one of those creators, I have a plan of attack, and I think I can make this work. It’ll start with one topic on the grid and then give students two choices represented by two more topics, and this would go again and then have two ending topics for a total of seven topics. There are obviously more details to work out, but this is enough to get me started, and my power lit class is more than willing to help me figure it out. And really, what’s better than learning together?
And this, really, is why I decided that right now was the perfect time to start this blog. I had an idea I was excited about, and I want to share the process with you. Maybe you’ll want to try the same thing (or something different) and check in with me. This is where we brainstorm together, try it, and revisit and revise.
Have you been using Flipgrid in your classroom? If so, what great things have you been doing with it? If not, create a grid and tell me how it goes!