Big Flippin’

Big Flippin’

Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of popping in to my friend’s summer school “credit recovery” geometry class. Kristan teaches Geometry during the school year and does a wonderful job on integrating technology into her mathematics instruction. Earlier last week, she mentioned having her students use Padlet (which I LOVE … see Ro’s post on that platform!) to reflect on a super-interactive lesson, and I asked, via Twitter,  if she had tried Flipgrid. She said that she was excited to give it a try, and I begged for an opportunity to see Big Kids work with it.

So, I showed up just in time to get a quick review of calculating sides and diagonals of quadrilaterals (hey … it’s been about 40 years since my last geometry class!), and then Kristan launched into their Flipgrid activity. She had provided several videos for the students to review via earbuds/headphones, and then had the students respond to prompts. They drew a variety of quadrilaterals and explained how to find the measurements of sides and angles.

Watching these high schoolers interact with Flipgrid was eye-opening. What they are self-conscious of, compared to my 5th graders, is so different! Here are some observations that tickled me:

  • When told they were going to record short videos, there were comments like, “WHAT?” “For real?” and “… like a reporter!”
  • As much as teens love their selfies, they were reluctant to snap one at the end of their Flipgrid responses! Until they were “caught”, several students were holding up their phones with photos of friends pulled up and snapping their friends’ faces. Several others used their sketches. Anything but their faces!
  • One student, who happened to be one of my former students, had a hard time getting started. It may have been my presence that was bothering her, because after we chatted about mutual memories, she jumped into the tasks.
  • Upon returning from a bathroom break, one student announced, “Gotta make some more videos!”
  • One student rapped one of his responses.
  • One student told his teacher, “When I become famous, I can tell people that it all started with a vlog in Mrs. Morales’ class.”
  • One student, settling into focused work claimed, “I’m going to show you all how it’s done!”
  • I didn’t see any of the students “redo” a video. That seems to be the hang-up with 5th graders. A 90-second video can take up to 20 minutes because they’re much more concerned about perfection.

The high schoolers seemed much more relaxed about recording themselves once and moving on. I hope I can use this observation to prod my students along. Last year, I only used Flipgrid for two assignments and then a “Welcome” message for next year’s 5th graders, so hopefully by consistently using it throughout the year, my students will work their way through their insecurities.

Finally, my time in high school geometry reminded me of how much I love teenagers. My two “babies” are nearly 25 and 29 now – well into adulthood – but their high school days (8 years in a row) were some of my favorite years. They and their friends brought so much joy into my life! Mrs. Morales’ students prompted me to realize how much potential is sitting in those classes. If we just tap into it – if we give students choices in how they can learn and share their learning – we can uncover the “reporters” and “famous vloggers”. Flipgrid is a tool that can help us engage students with different learning styles and plug them into success.

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