How to Make Your Students Flip in Minutes

Listen to “77-Flipgrid is a Powerful Little Tool that’s a Blast…Starring Aharon Rockwell.output” on Spreaker.

When evaluating a new tech tool, I must be able to use it within five minutes, or I just bag it.

If I can’t figure it out by then, my students will be lost.

I was conducting a PD session in Ft. Worth this past summer. A young lady called me over and said, Have you heard of Flipgrid and if so, have you used it? My answer was, No and No.

I made a mental note to try it when the school year started, but I remember thinking, It has to pass my ease of use test. Eight weeks into the school year, I finally got around to it. I’m glad I did!

Flipgrid is a cool way to encourage student’s voice. You record a video question and then kids record a 1 to 90-second video on their smartphones or Chromebooks in response.

Learn about more digital learning strategies

I mastered this cool new tech tool in about three minutes. My students figured it out in two.

This tool is great in terms of providing a creative vehicle for student expression. My friend Chrissy Romano warned that ostentatious presentation tools like Flipgrid might unravel introverted kids.

My response, which Chrissy liked, by the way, was to take anxiety away by permitting students who were uncomfortable to interview someone.

My first Flipgrid was pure practice. The students were prompted to ask Mr. Sturtevant a question.

This accomplished two objectives: It got them accustomed to the platform and they learned a lot about their teacher, which makes me more approachable.

My second Flipgrid was powerful. I challenged students to interview a friend, family member, coworker, or classmate. They asked their subject if they knew a Muslim and is Islam a religion of peace.

Aharon Rockwell

Aharon Rockwell is a freshman and in my Global Studies class. He knew I had a podcast and approached me about being a guest. I jumped at his offer and I’m glad I did. He’s a great guest, who explains the power of this tool, in the episode embedded above.

The Problem

Student are limited in terms of expression.

The Solution

Flipgrid will give your kids a new expressive canvas to paint upon…and it’s a lot of fun.

What you can do Tomorrow

  • Watch this brief tutorial from Tina Zita.

  • To become familiar with this tool, create your own grid and coerce your family and friends into posting.
  • Prompt your students to use Flipgrid in a trial by challenging them to ask you a basic question…see my first Flipgrid.
  • Prompt students with a question that gauges community attitudes. This will be an interview where introverted students can breathe a sigh of relief. Check out this Flipgrid for ideas.

Flipgrid is a cool tool that’s easy for kids to master. It’s also a lot of fun!

Why This Teacher Says Instant Feedback Is Where the Action Is

Listen to “63-Collaborating with Students is an Essential 21st-Century Skill…let Ann Coates Help you do it” on Spreaker.
If one were to make a list of essential educator skills for the 21st-Century, certainly, collaborating with students would be near the top.

This episode of the Hacking Engagement podcast, embedded above, features a collaboration expert: Ann Coates is a veteran high school teacher in Hanover, Massachusetts. Ann is all about giving timely and meaningful feedback to kids. In fact, she says:

Instant feedback is, where the actions is!

This attention-grabbing statement got me thinking. I get feedback from colleagues and administrators all the time. Some of it welcome, Jim, that was awesome! Some of it not, Jim, you need to improve your essential questions. In regard to constructive criticism, unless I act upon feedback promptly, I tend to forget it. So, give your kids timely feedback and then encourage them to act upon it.

Ann Coates the Pride of Hanover, Mass @annmcoates

Additionally, deliver feedback in a 21st Century fashion.

When I was young, I rarely read red pen comments in the margins of my research papers. I checked my grade, which was all the information I cared about. I’ll wager that you have a bevy of students, like the young James Sturtevant, who don’t read the important comments that you labored to write in their margins.

Sure, it’s frustrating, but it is what it is and perhaps you can adjust. Utilize some of Ann’s outstanding suggestions and watch kids begin to digest then act upon some of your constructive and helpful feedback. Observe your relationships with students evolve as your collaboration with them blossoms.

Hacking Engagement Again

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Utilize some of Ann’s outstanding suggestions and observe your relationships with students evolve as your collaboration with them blossoms. As our education system navigates to a more student-led learning template, student-teacher collaboration will no longer be a cool thing that a few teachers in the building have mastered.

It will be an essential skill that ALL educators simply must embrace.

The Problem

Teachers need to up their student collaboration game.

The Hack

Dedicate a portion of class time to student feedback and then have kids act upon that information.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  1. Divide tomorrow’s lesson into tasks to be evaluated.
  2. Create opportunities to provide feedback on these tasks be it, peer-feedback, self-reflection, or directly from you.
  3. Include a dedicated time segment in the lesson for students to act upon feedback.
  4. Direct kids to resubmit and get additional advice.

Collaborating with kids is essential. Use Ann’s outstanding feedback strategies to build relationships and student learning.

Engaging Learners With Role Play and Simulations

Listen to “54-Morph Student Identities…Starring Spencer Cappel and Josh Kent” on Spreaker.

I’m guessing most teachers have employed simulations and role play in their class. It’s a great way to learn. This Hacking Engagement Podcast episode demonstrates how you can combine role play and simulations with my favorite student activity.

I love Socratic seminars! They’re the embodiment of self-directed learning and student collaboration.

Kids take a complex topic, learn about it, and then sit in a circle with their peers and apply it, discuss it, explain it, and ask questions to one another.

My experience has been that concepts, events, and topics covered in this fashion leads to deep understanding and significant engagement. But everything, even things you and your students love, will get old if you don’t alter it occasionally.

I faced this dilemma in teaching the incredibly complex topic which is the Syrian Civil War. I wanted students to engage in a Socratic Seminar, but I wanted it to be different.

We had conducted a number of such seminars and I felt the format was getting a bit stale. So, I decided that in order for my students to understand the Syrian Civil War, they needed to become the powerful actors involved.

Josh Kent and Spencer Cappel help me in this quest.

Josh Kent and Spencer Cappel

These are two outstanding young folks who will serve as this episode’s original sources. I love a lot of things about these guys, but I particularly appreciate the intellectual depth they bring to my class.

One silly note about this episode is I’ve always called Socratic seminars Socratic circles. I try to call them Socratic seminars in this episode, which I’m only partially successful doing, and it totally confuses my guests. Whoops!

Here’s a link to an earlier blog post where I explain exactly how to produce a Socratic seminar!

The Problem

Your go-to learning activity needs an upgrade.

The Solution

Morph student identities for your next Socratic seminar.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  1. Settle on a topic.

  2. List the important players.

  3. Assign students roles.

  4. Prompt kids to research.

  5. Encourage students to be their role.

Socratic seminars are wonderful learning experiences. Keep them fresh and engaging by forcing kids to be somebody they are not!

For more student engagement strategies, check out Hacking Engagement today.