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Finding Flipgrid FANTASTIC!

Today was my inaugural launch of Flipgrid.  Having heard wonderful reviews on the platform, I made it my mission to give it a try, and the results were flipping great!
If you haven't seen/heard of Flipgrid, its billing claims that it is 'social learning for everyone' Essentially,  Flipgrid allows users to engage in video dialogue about a Topic.  For this dialogue, educators can establish 'Grids' that contain Topics for discussion.  For a Topic, you can record and upload video stimuli, embed videos, upload a high-resolution image for students to discuss, or add a little fun with GIPHY and Emoji. You can also feature an attached file or any website as the stimulus in your Topics.

Students log in by simply entering an access code and are then granted access to the grid (and Topics).  The power in Flipgrid resides in the response strategies.  Students are allowed 1 minute and 30 seconds to respond/discuss a topic that is provided and are encourage to provide feedback to each other about the topics.  Flipgrid houses ALL of the video responses for a topic together, and shares a thumbnail 'selfie' that students create to show that there are responses for a Topic.  As students explore, they can watch other video responses and give feedback to one another.

Flipgrid is free to educators and the free account has a great number of useful features, including:
  • Unlimited student response videos (15-sec or 90-sec)
  • Security, privacy + moderation settings
  • Simple individual student feedback
  • Private video sharing with families
  • Custom Integrations (Microsoft Teams, Canvas) + embed anywhere
  • Free iPhone, iPad, Android apps
For a fee of $65 a year, educators get access to Unlimited student response videos (15-sec up to 5-min)
  • Unlimited student video replies-to-responses
  • Customizable feedback + assessment rubrics
  • Advanced Grid management + data exports
  • Topic launch + freeze scheduling
  • Exclusive webinars 
  • More than 50 Classroom features
Lesson Example

PreHistoric Cartoon Analysis

Setting the Stage
Students were given 10 cartoons representing pre-historic times and were asked to analyze the cartoons to determine whether they believed the cartoon to be representative of  Paleolithic times or Neolithic times.  As part of their analysis, they had to provide THREE pieces of evidence to support their claim.  Students were also asked to identify any errors in the illustration that conflict with historical facts.

As students evaluated each cartoon, they were required to record a notesheet of their facts.

See detailed example of project here -----> Cartoon Analysis

The Flipgrid Experience
After the analysis was complete, students were provided access to a FlipGrid with individual topics that contained a link to each cartoon.  Within the FlipGrid, students had to choose 3 cartoons and provide a video response of their analysis of those cartoons.

Student Reaction
I launched FlipGrid with a small amount of trepidation; not sure if students would appreciate the platform and concerned that they'd be too shy to record.  Happily, I was wrong!  Students jumped eagerly into the process.  Within minutes, I'd explained the directions, provided the grid code and they were recording on iPads.

As you can see, students were ESPECIALLY fond of the 'selfie' option....

of course, I flipping hope you're 

And we'll have FUN FUN FUN...

FUN in the classroom is ESSENTIAL. Especially in the Middle School. It keeps you stimulated as an educator and it keeps the students engaged. But there's more to it than that. There is BRAIN BASED RESEARCH to support that fun is MORE than just ok in the classroom, it stimulates learning!

The Neuroscience Behind FUN!

When students experience joy in the classroom, it is scientifically proven that their minds are MORE OPEN TO LEARNING! The endorphins that are produced as a result of positive experiences allow them to be more receptive to learning. In addition, those endorphins are addictive. The body remembers the positive and safe feelings that are associated with the environment and will produce those endorphins each time the student is in the environment. This means that you'll have created a situation where the student's physiology will be biochemically altered to perceive your classroom as a safe place for risk-taking that is necessary for learning.

Fun and engagement comes in many ways. There are tech integration strategies like: gamification augmented reality, virtual reality and scavenger hunts, and non-tech options like: Escape Rooms (Breakout EDU), costumes, skits, joke telling and more. There are so many other ways!! Even the little things can engage and ignite interest in your students. So here's ONE way you can incite a room full of giggles....FAKE student names.

Fake Names

When beginning a lesson that requires note taking, I often start that lesson by modeling the heading on a student paper:
Rather than dry, droll note taking, that ONE little element of levity can capture student interest and provide a small smattering of giggles. It seems simple, but it's fun, and as we now know, it helps set the stage for learning!

Here are some of my FAVORITES!!

Avery Goodyear
Rita Book
Moe Mentum
Neera Nuff
Dewey Hafta
Obie Quiet
Constance Ubervision
Igor Beaver
Les Ismore
Doris Shutt
Moe D'Lawn
Russell Papus
Laura Deboom
Amal Shookup
Linus Scrimmage
Isabelle Ringing
Paige Turner
Arty Ficial
Ed U. Cation

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Special thanks to Amy Hysick New York State's 2017 Teacher of the Year for sharing with me the science behind fun!  See her AWESOME Discovery Education article here!

and of course, thanks for

For more on the neuroscience of learning, try:

Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher


Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Revised 2nd Edition

Perfect Plicker Plans for Pleasant Patrons!

What Are Plickers?

In a nutshell, a Plicker is a bit like a QR Code; a scannable image that stores information.  On a Plicker, each side represents a letter...A, B, C or D.  

In the classroom, each student can hold a Plicker and use it to respond to a question indicating their selection by holding the corresponding letter UPRIGHT.  In the case below, this Plicker represents a student #1 responding with the letter B.

When students hold up their Plickers and you scan with a device running the Plicker app, (cellphone, tablet) the student response is recorded.  What's super cool about this is it is NOT necessary to get close to each Plicker, you can scan multiple Plickers in seconds from the front of the room!!!

A GREAT Assessment Tool

The Plicker website (and app) allows you to build folders of questions that can be added to the Plicker Queue.  Once a question resides in the Queue, it is visible by the app, can be projected via Liveview on a PC screen and can be scanned to collect student information.

The Plicker website also allows classes of students to be added by name (I assign student numbers 1, 2, 3, etc.) so you can use as an authentic assessment of individual student responses.

Plickers are FREE and printable from the Plicker website.  It is NOT recommended that you laminate them as non-matte finished laminate generates a glare that makes scanning difficult.  

Amazon offers pre-laminated Plickers with a Matte laminate finish for $20.00.  

Plicker Hacks

Plickers are great as a 'ticket out the door' or 'exit slip' and this is where I find them most useful.  Try these hacks for making it much easier to quickly integrate Plickers on a routine basis in your classroom.

#1.  Use student numbers instead of names...spend MUCH less time entering data into the Plicker website.

#2.  Provide each student with a paper Plicker.  TAPE IT TO THE BACK OF THEIR AGENDA OR NOTEBOOK.

#3.  Keep spare Plickers in the room on a Plicker Keeper for forgetful students (and for an attractive display!)

#4.  Don't create set after set of questions if you only need to use Plickers as a quick ticket out the door.  Create ONE set of generic questions (5 blank questions) and VERBALLY ask the students to respond.  Scan their responses and view the data for an instant look at how the class is doing on concepts.

5.  Worried about the VERBAL option only in number 4 above?  Create the questions (and choices) in an attractive Google Slide instead of on the app.  It's faster and MUCH easier than building them within the Plicker website.

Data driven instruction with positively pleasant Plicker performance,