Tech Tools

Marker Mic Drop #8: The Social Institute

When you think about our students, our very own children, you realize that this generation is growing up in a world very different from previous generations. While there are timeless issues that students face – bullying, their self-image and confidence, or simply balancing responsibilities – they face these challenges at younger ages and in a higher frequency than ever before. Laura Tierney recognized this and thus started The Social Institute.

Laura Tierney, Founder and CEO of The Social Institute

Laura Tierney, Founder and CEO of The Social Institute (TSI), combined ten years of social media and marketing experience into the TSI platform that has quickly gained traction. Before TSI, she had already reached millions of female athletes during her work with ESPN as a Social Media Manager. Her ten years of social media work also helped build campaigns for household names, such as Samsung, Coca-Cola, Travelocity, Oakley and Disney. What does Laura Tierney bring to the table, though, that makes TSI greatly appealing?

Her passion.

A single training with TSI’s Founder, alongside Josh Lutkus, TSI Senior Partner Success Manager, showed an admirable authenticity for a higher purpose concerning our students. As a 4x Duke All-American athlete and 2-time team captain, Laura Tierney knows how to lead.

What is The Social Institute?

The Social Institute (TSI) is a gamified, online learning curriculum that addresses social media and technology concerns facing our younger generations. TSI believes that empathy, integrity, and teamwork are keys to help guide our students toward a successful path not only for their health but also their happiness. The platform neither endorses nor condemns social media but encourages students to make responsible daily decisions with their technology use.

“We’re on a mission to fuel students’ health, happiness, and future success.” -The Social Institute

TSI believes in a positive approach as a base for their work. Instead of telling our students all that is wrong with social media and technology, Laura Tierney’s foundational belief is that we can use technology on a daily basis to enhance our lives. Whether you are connecting with old friends or following positive role models, technology has the potential to lift others up instead of tear people down. While we often have these conversations as parents and teachers, students tend to shut down because they anticipate a lecture. TSI opens up the conversation.

How does TSI work?

Once a school is set up with a TSI account, teachers will be able to run a series of scenarios based on TSI’s Seven Social Standards:

  • Play To Your Core
  • Protect Your Privacy Like You’re Famous
  • Strike a Balance
  • Cyberback
  • Find Your Influencers
  • Use Your Mic For Good
  • Handle the Pressure

Scenarios vary based on the grade level you choose. (Currently, grades 4-12 are available.) Through generated scenarios and student testimonials, participants can choose how they would react and have follow-up discussion. Here are favorite highlights that have been most effective among my students:

  • After students choose how they would react to a given scenario, a percentage breakdown is given based on your class, your school, and the nation. This has promoted empathetic discussion when students were trying to understand others’ choices.
  • Press pause: Is the discussion so good that they want to keep talking? The lesson will automatically advance to the next question (making it extremely user-friendly) but you also have the option to press pause if your students are fired up about a topic.
  • Schools can send out a Parent Toolkit that will help parents and students navigate social media and technology in a healthy way. This includes family discussion questions along with links to related news and research for additional resources powering each lesson.
  • The “wow” factor: Your students will be face-to-face with their daily use averages, their hard data that tells them how much time they spend on their device and face tough questions. It will surprise some but not others, but all of our conversations thus far have been extremely positive.

With that said, let’s talk about this from the student side.

Initial Reactions

I cannot tell you how many students said to their teachers “You’re here to tell me how bad social media is, right?” before day one of TSI.

Flashforward thirty minutes later.

I have two advisory classes: eighth grade girls and ninth grade girls. They were convinced teachers were out for their phones and the lesson would be nothing less than a shaming. The day’s lesson was “Strike a Balance,” looking at personal phone usage. My twenty-two students were fully-engaged, some pleasantly surprised by their daily use average, and some wide-eyed, not realizing that their average was double or sometimes quadruple of their peers.

But no one felt shamed.

“Rather than scare and restrict, we empower and equip.” – TSI

Let’s return to TSI’s “Positive Approach” stance. One aspect of TSI that I most appreciate is its realism. TSI “elevates the positives rather than focusing on the negatives.” You will be hard-pressed to find an adult who is not also devouring social media on their device, so why condemn our children for it?

The platform beautifully transitions from interactive scenarios to short clips that students can watch, including middle school, high school, and university students, passing down their experience and knowledge. The video testimonials of students take the scenario from text on a screen to a relatable story.

The average teen consumes media for over seven hours a day. We live in a world where eyes are down and our face-to-face interaction is constantly disrupted. As a World Language teacher, I fully endorse any program that brings about the human factor and healthy communication.

TSI and Your School

TSI addresses universal and timeless issues that seem more aggressive than ever for our younger generations. Laura Tierney brings her values to the table in a program that can reach not one age group or category of student, but all students. TSI’s user-friendly and extremely timely program makes having the right conversations comfortable for both the student and the adult.

If you are interested in partnering with The Social Institute, you can reach them on their website by clicking here: The Social Institute (Contact Us). You can also follow them on social media @TheSocialInst (Twitter and Instagram) and follow their hashtag #WinAtSocial.

Tech Tools

Tech Tool #12: Take Your Classroom Out Into the World with Google Arts and Culture

Image source: https://artsandculture.google.com/

When I heard that one of my favorite Choose Your Own Adventure projects was in jeopardy because Google Tour Builder is being phased out, I was heartbroken. Once I started exploring Google Arts & Culture, though, I had no doubts that this project would take a turn for the better.

Google Expeditions and Tour Builder will disappear June 30, 2021, but Google Expeditions will be absorbed into Google Arts and Culture. Google Earth is an excellent substitute for a travel project and allows students to customize a journey in the same way as with Tour Builder. The resources from Google Earth and Arts and Culture could be the perfect marriage.

Choose Your Interactive Experience

Whether you want to explore the Palace of Versailles in 3D or create a self-portrait like Frida Kahlo, the Google Arts and Culture homepage will guide you to almost any cultural adventure you can imagine. The immersive experiences encompass virtual museum tours, daily stories, as well as deep dives into works of art and locations all around the world. You have a couple options to peruse the vast Arts and Culture site: use the top left three-line (“hamburger”) menu or head on over to the “Explore” menu in the top right corner. Here, you will find neatly organized categories. (See video below for a one-minute tour.)

Image source: https://artsandculture.google.com/

The home page includes a vast introduction to all that Arts and Culture has to offer: virtual tours, a database of artworks, the ability to search for art by color, games and more. Art camera has beautiful guided lessons to explore details you might have missed in famous works of art. You can also see an overview of what activities are only available through a mobile application. The top left three-line (“hamburger”) menu invites you to visit museum collections, artists, mediums (paper, ink, water color, etc.), art movements, historical events and figures, and places. Discover daily stories and recommended articles that are automatically generated based on your search history. Save your favorites by clicking on the heart on the topic’s page. Students can participate in a number of “Experiments”, as well as the ability to explore exhibits in your area by using the “Nearby” menu and map.

Google Experiments

There is no lack of engagement possibilities but the Experiments section allows students to personalize their interaction even more. Try your hand at opera with Blob Opera. (The colorful creatures will be hard for students to resist!) Create street galleries by choosing a city and virtually insert a number of works curated by the United Nations. From coloring books to puzzles, the virtual Experiments are suitable for all ages.

Blob Opera
Image source: https://artsandculture.google.com/

Enhanced Mobile Experience

There are certain features of Google Arts and Culture that are only available through an application on a mobile device. This can literally put the learning into your students’ hands, allowing them to explore any number of topics.

Whether you want to hang Monet’s Water Lilies in your home or get lost in space, the Google Arts and Culture app is worth the download. See scenes from Day of the Dead celebrations and then have your students follow up with the Día de los Muertos lesson found on the Google Arts and Culture site. Have your students input themselves into art itself by transforming their photos with a Klein-inspired filter or matching their selfie with a historical work of art. They will, no doubt, have fun with these activities!

Not Just for Art Teachers

Image source: https://artsandculture.google.com/

Don’t let Arts and Culture lead you to believe that this site is only for certain curricula. The resources reach far beyond the art room. Here are a few highlights for the different areas:

  • Science: Be lost in space with augmented reality
  • History: Explore the first journey around the world
  • World Language: Culture-specific resources are endless
  • English: Discover The Early Forms of Khon and how storytelling evolved over time
  • Music: A simple music search will take your students from Beethoven to the rhythm of Portugal
  • Fashion design: We Wear Culture — Google Arts & Culture 
  • Virtual field trips reveal geography, artifacts, and promote analysis and comparison
  • Hidden stories help students make connections between historical places, figures, music, art…the hidden details not always found in a textbook.

Personalize the Learning Experience: Ideas for the Classroom

Arts and Culture lends itself nicely to a personalized student experience. Here are a few ideas to kick off your lessons:

  • Choice Boards: Have each student contribute a topic or activity they find to their collective class choice board.
    • Activity idea: Have students guide their own virtual tours based on a museum and exhibit of their choice.
  • Create a Choose Your Own Adventure! Have your students travel to different parts of the world or times in history to explore artists, historical movements, etc.
  • Appsmash: Combine Arts and Culture with any other reflective EdTech tool. A few ideas:
    • Flipgrid: Reflect, compare and/or analyze different arts or cultures.
    • Book Creator: Are students feeling inspired by the amazing works they research? Whether it is more fact or fiction, have your students write, illustrate, narrate and publish their inspiration about an artist or movement of their choice.
    • QR Code Museum: This has been one of my favorite projects for the past ten years. (QR Code Generator is just one of many free options.) You can take this in many directions but these are my two favorite QR code projects:
      • Students choose a work of art and write a fictional story inspired by that work of art. Once completed, the class goes on a gallery walk, scanning each other’s QR codes to listen to the recorded narration of their story.
      • La Manie Musicale: Think March Madness but with French music. Students from all classes scan QR codes and vote on their favorite songs to advance to the finals. Let your Arts and Culture conversations spur on your own bracket of choice! (Great speaking activity: They must defend their choices!)
  • Scavenger hunt/escape room: Students create a scavenger hunt (think: escape room) that takes you around the world using information found only within Google Arts and Culture. (Check out How to Create Digital Escape Room (Ditch That Textbook) for some helpful hints.) Who knows what else they will discover when looking for the answers?
  • Student portfolios: Encourage students to create their own Favorites list and revisit it over the course of the year. This could include their favorite artists or works or art from each time period studied, coupled with a reflection.
    • If your students record on Flipgrid, create a Mixtape at the end of the year with all of their reflections.

You cannot go wrong here…

Don’t let Arts and Culture lead you to believe that this site is only for certain curricula. The generous amount of resources beautifully transfer to any class subject and can help diversify all classrooms. Most importantly, the lessons inspired by Google Arts and Culture can speak to students’ individual interests, personalizing their learning experience. The site reaches all subjects and lends itself well to cross-curricular lessons. So, I must ask…

Anybody up for some collaboration?

Tech Tools

Curious Creator Courses now available on Teachable!

One of my greatest passions is helping teachers on their EdTech journey. This is why I am incredibly excited to announce that I am launching the Curious Creator Courses “Tech It Up a Notch!” series on Teachable. There will be much more to come but here is a taste to get started.

Tech It Up a Notch! Creations Library

The “Tech It Up a Notch!” Creations Library is where you will be able to find short tutorial videos to immediately implement engaging activities in your classroom. All tutorials will come with a brainstorm of ideas for how the activity could be used across any curriculum. Want to take your students on a Choose Your Own Adventure story using Google Forms? Click HERE to enroll in the FREE mini-course with a step-by-step for how to quickly set up your first CYOA.

Tech It Up a Notch! Master Class

The Tech It Up a Notch! Master Class is an extensive deep dive into innovating your classroom with intentionality. You will not only develop a frame of mind for how to approach technology integration in the classroom, but I walk you through a step-by-step approach for EdTech integration, including a module on how to manageably throw out your textbook and still make lessons meaningful, engaging, and fun. The course ends with YOUR marker mic drop moment (you know I love those) by using your newly-learned skills to revamp (or create from scratch!) a lesson plan to immediately take into the classroom.

The year 2020 is one for the books. Let’s take 2021 head-on by equipping ourselves to best serve our students.

The idea of keeping up with technology integration into the classroom can seem daunting, which is why I will also address the most manageable and effective ways to make learning an experience and not an overwhelming amount of planning on the teacher.

All content will be released between December 15 and December 29, ready to have you rockin’ and rollin’ for 2021. The year 2020 is one for the books and we have learned a lot from it. Now, let’s take 2021 head-on by equipping ourselves to best serve our students.

Let’s Innovate Together

Innovate. Create. Pivot. Repeat.

Teachers have been pushed to their limits this past year and while it may not feel like it every day, teachers…you shine. The abundance of creativity, camaraderie, and flexibility have made you stronger. I would love to hear about your Marker Mic Drop moments to feature here on the blog, with your permission. Email curiouscreator9@gmail.com to spread the good word of what is happening in your classrooms!

Regular blog posts will resume in January 2021. I wish you blessed holidays and as always,…

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #11: SlidesMania

You are about to become a SlidesManiac. Trust me.

SlidesMania is a website dedicated to beautifully created templates that can be used in Google Slides or PowerPoint. While anybody can find these templates useful, educators cannot get enough of Paula Martínez’s creations. (You can read about Paula, the creator, here.)

“The lack of organization, that we almost all suffered, got me thinking about templates to make the distance learning journey a bit easier.”

Paula is not an educator and does not work in design. She works in a financial department and began Slidesmania to satisfy her creative side after crunching numbers from 9 to 6. Little did she know how much the educational community would welcome her!

“At first, almost every template was for general use, but once I jumped into the Twitterverse and started interacting with so many amazing educators from all over the world, SlidesMania began turning and I started working on templates for education. The ultimate push was given by the pandemic, and seeing myself working remotely for my day job, and having my daughter learning from home at the same time. The lack of organization, that we almost all suffered, got me thinking on templates to make the distance learning journey a bit easier. And the planners were born, along the choice boards, and all the interactive templates.”

I think we can all relate to Paula’s words describing the last several months. I was struck with a profound appreciation for her abundant creativity, support of educators, and attractive templates in a straight-forward, user-friendly forum. Planners, choice boards, interactive games…this is a teacher’s dream. One week with the Digital Notebook with Sections and I feel like my thoughts and plans for the coming year are already more organized.

Image source: http://www.slidesmania.com

Paula provides simple as well as more adventurous styles of templates, pleasing anyone’s tastes. Her website makes it easy to find exactly what you need, categorized under “Business,” “Education,” “Formal,” “Fun,” “Simple,” and “Colors.” She also provides directions in her posts, videos, and on the actual templates. For example, she advises against adding your own slides in the Digital Notebook with Sections and instead duplicating her slides so you do not have to add links. Take her advice! She has thought through every angle.

By Educators, For Educators

The last menu that you’ll see on her site is “By Edu for Edu,” with templates submitted by teachers, varying from planners to vocabulary organizers. Not only is Paula taking requests for templates to create, she is bringing teachers’ templates to her stage, too.

Paula humbly admits that SlidesMania largely fulfills her creative side but, after many donation requests, she set up a Buy Me a Coffee (SlidesMania) account. As a simple thank you, it’s the least we could do as a token of appreciation!

Until next time…

Marker Mic Drop, Marker Mic Drop Moments, Tech Tools

Marker Mic Drop #7: #FlipgridLIVE 2020 – August 1 updates

Image source: FlipgridLIVE 2020

My brain is on fire. I “attended” the Flipgrid LIVE Broadcast (June 29, 2020) Monday night to hear the year’s recap and upcoming updates that left my mind racing hours later. Flipgrid has been my number one go-to EdTech tool for a few years now. What started out as a simple video platform with basic comment feedback to students has now transformed into truly promoting their mission to promote every voice.

The updates come in response to (teacher) feedback, and abundantly so after this remote learning experience. One stop on Twitter and you will witness an overwhelming use of Flipgrid in innovative ways by old and new users in the past three months. Flipgrid’s newest updates will enhance their mission to promote every voice, its creativity and story. So, let’s get to it, everything coming your way August 1, 2020:

  • Boards: Math teachers, this is for you. There will be graph paper backgrounds and more, as well as split-screen recordings (simultaneous videos and white or blackboards)…yes, please and thank you!
  • Creative fonts: Who doesn’t like to express themself via their font of choice?
  • New filters and frames: People love filters. Flipgrid is giving more color gradient options, a privacy filter (Block mode) and frames that make students look like they’re on the local news, among other choices.
  • Stickers: My students found these fun before but now teachers can take advantage of them, too, with new releases every month. The new stickers will come in a variety, such as math symbols, speech bubbles, and GIFs (yes, GIFs).
  • Redesigned view: Topic prompts will be easier to respond to and view, including more screen space and the ability to see which video will play next.
  • Comments: Students will be able to respond to one another’s videos with text and video, and all can be moderated by the teacher. Teachers will also be able to respond via text or video but can also make Comments private or public.
  • Discovery Library Collections can be shared with any Flipgrid educator.
  • The Topic of the Day and Wonder of the Day will kickstart your daily lessons.
  • Partner Pages: Check out Langston League and Made By Dyslexia, Flipgrid’s newest partners.
  • Miscellaneous:
    • The ability to create stand-alone topics for discussion prompts.
    • You can grant access to specific emails, and not just large domains.
    • Adobe Spark integration (yes, they can now be a part of your Topics).
    • Grids will now be called “Groups,” and can be used to access multiple Topics with a single code. You will also be able to easily add a single Topic to multiple Groups. (No more “Duplicate” then wait, go back, repeat…)
    • Quickview: Flipgrid boasts a new, modern look that will make it even easier to navigate videos.

That was a lot. I’ll give you a minute.

Okay, but there is one more thing.

  • Flipgrid Coach:

Flipgrid Coach, the last update to be featured in #FlipgridLIVE, is like the Speech 101 class everyone wishes they could take. (I can still see the podium I dreaded so much on the second floor of the Communications building.) The Flipgrid Coach feature provides immediate feedback, encouraging better speaking. It makes note of all “umms,” “uhs,” “wells,” and general pauses, also tuning into the presenter’s speed. The speaker will receive a report card with a breakdown of categories (“Filler Words,” “Pace,” etc.), and tear drop markers (think Edpuzzle question markers) to indicate at what point these appeared in the video. Can you imagine the potential of this consistently being used every year over the lifetime of a child’s education?

Image source: FlipgridLIVE 2020

In a reluctantly sappy moment, I cannot begin to tell you the joy I have had for the student who was so incredibly shy to never raise a hand in class but found a voice in the Flipgrid platform. Flipgrid has come a long way with a lot of impressive changes, but one thing has remained constant: students feel comfortable in this platform. I have heard pronunciations they would never iterate in a classroom of peers; real stories of how they miss their sister in Africa, that it was her birthday and they were thinking of her on that day that the assignment was due…I never knew how it would open up their world but also open up mine.

The most admirable part of this all is Flipgrid’s continual awareness and willingness to listen to its users. Marker mic drop to you, Flipgrid, for always trying to provide the best platform for every user’s voice.

Food for Thought

Food for thought: Wrapping up remote learning…for now?

Summer 2020. Not exactly the summer we were anticipating when we first envisioned final exams, caps and gowns, and end-of-year celebrations. Most of us have made it through the remote learning process and rounded out one more year, but not with the same sense of finality. The grading deadlines came – the communication all via text, email or Zoom – and then it was done. There was no sitting in a cafeteria with laughter and that end-of-year feeling of accomplishment. There was no talk of summer plans and upcoming travels. So, I don’t know about you, but when the deadline for grades was over, it felt like there should have been more, but there was simply nothing left to do.

If you had to do remote learning all over again, what would you do differently?

These past few months have lent plenty of time for self-reflection. I am a silver lining type of person and am fascinated by how not only education, but also businesses and organizations everywhere have adjusted this spring. I am not promoting all online, all remote learning, but embracing that we have had to confront, adapt, and constantly pivot, inevitably leading us to a new normal. I think that the human element and relationships formed in the classroom are far too important to ever exclude. I cannot help but wonder, though, if we have to repeat distance learning, what would we do differently?

I began the remote learning process with a six-week-old baby and a two year-old. I would say “if you only knew during those Zoom calls,” but now everyone knows because we have all been there. Hopefully there have been more laughs than frustrations and a great story or two to tell later.

Image source: The Dad (Facebook)

If this steep learning curve of an experience has taught us anything before another potential wave, it is to be more prepared for the future. I polled numerous teachers to gauge their comfort level with remote learning and technology, understandably finding all ranges from novice to advanced. Even those adept at organizing their classes with EdTech practices still breathed a heavy sigh of relief on the last day of school. The common denominator among all teachers? “I wish I’d had more training to be prepared for something like this.”

The amount of teachers fearlessly navigating new waters and asking for help was received by an abundance of support. Teachers willingly gave their resources via every platform. Teachers unfamiliar with EdTech practices developed some of the most creative ideas I have ever seen. In essence, the circumstances pushed the educational community to their greater potential, a silver lining, if I say so.

But for now, let’s decompress…

When this all began, I took long runs down the middle of the road just because I knew I could. I had more time at home with my children, even if some days’ saving grace was a humorous meme to which I could relate. The balance of toddler, baby, bottle, and thankfulness for muting audio and video are over. It’s time to unwind. Teachers, take some time for yourselves and regroup before thinking about what learning will look like upon when we return.

In the fall, most of us will reunite with our students in our physical spaces. Teachers are naturals at establishing relationships but have been on overdrive lately to maintain connections with their students. How refreshing will it be to smile, to (air!) high five or fist bump our students once again? Perhaps we should charge our students with the new handshake. What creative ways will they develop to greet each other during this social distance era?

Félicitations, teachers, on a job well done. You not only kept the learning going, but more importantly, you were there for your students. This experience has pushed us to be teachers we may not have realized we were capable of being. How can we apply this in the future? But for now, relax…

Happy summer, everyone!

Marker Mic Drop, Marker Mic Drop Moments, Tech Tools

Marker Mic Drop #6: Matt Miller, author to Tech Like a Pirate (and much more)

Author. Blogger. Podcaster. Educational speaker. Former Spanish teacher. There are many titles that Matt Miller holds, all impressively executed.

In one of the most recent Google Teacher Podcasts, Using Google to Tech Like a Pirate, Kasey Bell (Shake Up Learning author) interviews her co-host, Matt Miller, about his most recent book, Tech Like a Pirate. Inspired by Dave Burgess’s Teach Like a PIRATE, Miller sets out practical ways to use tech in the classroom while, most importantly, creating an experience.

“Don’t just teach a lesson. Create an experience!” -Dave Burgess, author to Teach Like a Pirate

If you are not already a follower of Miller’s Ditch That Textbook site, one click on the Tech Like a Pirate Resources will have you hooked. Click on any of the pictures and you will be taken to a wealth of resources. Miller has always selflessly offered a number of materials to teachers that they can use to create a memorable learning experience. He embraces an attitude that it is more important to try and fail than to not try at all. Try, learn, adjust, repeat. That’s my kind of teacher.

“When they’re having so much fun they don’t even know that they’re learning. That’s the best, right?” -Kasey Bell

The book and website break down memorable learning experiences via the following eight categories:

  • Social Media and Apps
  • Video
  • Games
  • Collaboration
  • Images
  • Exploration
  • Global Communication
  • Storytelling (Bonus chapter on the website!)
Image source: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EWEAZaLWAAU3r4s.jpg

The idea behind the book is to rethink your teaching to create activities that students will enjoy while using technology. In fact, Miller says in the podcast that his message to teachers is to see their assignment through a different lens. For example, could you recreate that writing activity into a social media post? Framing an activity in an appealing way to students will engage them and engrain your lesson that much more. Intentional, meaningful collaboration among you and your students, or from peer to peer, will add an even richer level of engagement. We know, for example, that social media is a huge part of our students’ world. Why not use that to our advantage and meet them at their interests?

In this remote learning era, this book could not have been more timely. In a time when resources are in overdrive to help out during remote learning, it is sometimes difficult to discern which will be the most valuable. I was already a follower of the Ditch That Textbook site. After seeing the book’s accompanying resources, as well as listening to Miller walk through his why for writing the book, I am completely sold. Not only will these ideas help finish the year strong but will also refresh us in the fall. I cannot wait to start flipping through the chapters to start brainstorming how to restructure my lessons. Imagine the storytelling that could come from this spring when we reunite with our students in person?

Tech Tools

Tech Tool Highlight #10: Flipgrid in the Remote Learning Era: Creativity to the Max

What is Flipgrid?

I would venture to guess that when the words “remote learning” are uttered in these recent weeks, “Flipgrid” quickly follows in the conversation. My favorite EdTech tool has likely been added to the top of many other teachers’ lists, too, during this remote learning time. Flipgrid is an extremely user-friendly EdTech tool that promotes social and emotional learning via a video platform that boosts student engagement. For an overview as well as video tutorial, check out my Flipgrid blog post.

Flipgrid not only increases students’ comfort levels when it comes to speaking, but it also provides a plethora of resources for teachers to collaborate on and boost their own creativity. The Flipgrid Disco Library provides ready-made prompts that you can duplicate and make your own. #Gridpals allows for Flipgrid users to connect while the Flipgrid Explorer Series has series of lessons featuring experts that can be directly added into your own grids. There is no shortage of resources!

Remote Learning 2020: Creativity Abounds

The creative uses for Flipgrid surface on a daily basis since remote learning began nationwide. A number of educators are using Flipgrid for the first time and their fresh ideas are Marker Mic Drop worthy. Long-time users are vamping up their normal Flipgrid agenda to reach into students’ homes (aka the new classroom). This post will highlight some ideas that can help you close out the year strong!

Virtual everything: Flipgrid allows for prompts, instructions, rubrics, additional documents needed…almost anything you would need in one centralized area under your topic. The latest Screencastify-like feature captures your screen while recording to more easily flip your lessons. Therefore, you can now virtually have band practice, book talks, show and tell, story retelling, topic presentations…the list goes on. Math and language teachers! Use the whiteboard feature on the bottom row of icons to have students talk out their work as they are completing a problem or writing a sentence.

Emotional check-ins: Many students who find it difficult to speak in class feel comfortable behind the Flipgrid screen. If you want to keep student responses private, check your privacy settings so that only you will see each student’s video and create a weekly check-in topic. I have also been creating check-in videos twice a week. Instead of writing weekly inspirational quotes on my large classroom windows, they are now a part of the selfie at the end of each video. (Insert picture from the row of icons at the bottom of the screen when taking a selfie. Resize and drag it to your liking.)

Weekly inspirational quote: Insert a picture into your selfie at the end of the video.

A new twist on story time: My personal favorite topic is “Confessions of a Fairy Tale Character,” but there is an even more engaging way to hear your students’ imaginations at work. Record an ongoing story by having students respond to each other. This could be in pairs, small groups, or the student could nominate the next student to pick up the story where they left off.

The Masked Singer: This may have been one of the most creative uses I have seen yet. By combining Flipgrid with a HyperDoc, a teacher brought “The Masked Singer” reality t.v. show to the classroom. With the gracious participation of her colleagues, each teacher recorded themselves singing on Flipgrid and placed an emoji over their face. To create the HyperDoc where students place their guesses, grab a screenshot of each singer that is linked to each video. Type “Guess” in each box where students type in a teachers’ names. (Hint: Use the “Make a copy” feature in Google Classroom for each student to have their own answer board.) I have created a sample game board here: “The Masked Singer” (Flipgrid). To make it your own, choose “File –> Make a copy, rename” then replace the images with the screenshots of your teachers’ videos and link their videos to the respective boxes. Voilà!

Just for fun: Whether it is “I Spy” or making your students guess your fib in “Two Truths and a Lie,” incorporate a weekly game that makes students connect in a fun way. I include the “I spy with my little eye” prompt in my video and in written form so that students know how to properly guess in French.

Image source: http://www.twitter.com (@TxTechChick)

“Fliphunts” (aka scavenger hunts): Create a doc that sends your students on a scavenger hunt, whether physically collecting or displaying items alongside a task that displays their knowledge about said item. For example, my students have had to act or draw out and use a sentence with reflexive verbs, correctly corresponding that action to the proper room in the house. (“I brush my teeth in the bathroom.”) Encourage play and creativity with this activity! Check out Kathi K’s Fliphunt guidelines and examples for more ideas.

Image source: http://www.flipgrid.com (Kathi K)

Talent show: Have students showcase their talents from their homes! Students and judges (perhaps other teachers?) can respond to videos with encouraging comments and feedback.

Physical Education class: Many P.E. teachers are using this to display proper ways to perform an exercise or as much as recording a full class students can follow along for their daily workout.

Advice to next year’s class: I am curious to know the advice current students will give to underclassmen. Create a Mixtape of responses and save it for the fall, showcasing your former students’ advice to their peers.

With a matter of a few short weeks of remote learning left in spring 2020, will you join the #FlipgridFever?

Marker Mic Drop, Marker Mic Drop Moments, Tech Tools

Marker Mic Drop #5: Karen Knight, Spanish Teacher and LOTE Department Chair

Image created on Canva.com

My department chair, Karen Knight, and I were discussing assignments for our remote learning experience that could potentially extend through the end of the year. “I want to give them a memory, Padrah. I don’t want to assign them 150 questions that won’t mean anything to them later.”

Exactly.

Karen proposed an idea that I absolutely love and will adopt for my classes in the coming weeks. Her students will be creating a scrapbook about their lives and the world during this global pandemic. The project builds upon itself with new themes or chapters for each week, with flexible expectations of responses written in the target language. Here is a breakdown of themes we brainstormed:

Week 1 – Current events headlines: Students gather current events articles and explain and summarize COVID-19, how it started and has evolved over the weeks. Students could elaborate on how it has specifically affected their community.

Week 2 – Family, activities, and the “New Normal”: Ask students to gather pictures and tell about their family. What are their ages? Jobs? Do they no longer work or work from home because of the pandemic? Most importantly, have your students discuss what their lives are from day-to-day now that they are at home. Have they been on more walks or spent more time with family?

Week 3 – A little humor: The memes, the GIFs, the videos of what people are doing to pass their time during stay-at-home orders are all pulling everyone through this with a smile. Have students recreate their favorites in the target language.

Week 4 – Twenty years from now…: What do students think the world will look like post-pandemic? Will we be more prepared and learn from this experience? Many schools and businesses have had to alter their ways. Will there be an overhaul to how we operate?

Week 5 – Reflection: Give your students an opportunity to express how they are feeling during this time and how it has impacted their lives. I would strongly encourage different mediums in which the students could present. Some are more comfortable with written or spoken words. For others, a drawn picture alleviates the pressure of speaking. Give an outline of reflection questions that can guide the students.

Presentation styles: There are various presentation options that a student can choose from for his or her final product. While we are living by the motto of “Keep it simple” in this teaching era, I believe that the more options you present, the better. Students only need to choose one, but by giving them alternatives, it accounts for their learning style preference as well as resources available to them. I could not possibly list all the resources available but here is a start:

Paper is always an option. Karen Knight proposed to the other Spanish teachers to accept this project at the beginning of next school year for a grade or extra credit.

Flipgrid presents a user-friendly video option. Even if students have a hard copy of their scrapbook, they could bring it to life by narrating it in a video.

Wakelet allows for beautiful digital storytelling, easily allowing students to add current events headlines as well as paragraphs with their own commentary and reflections.

Book Creator, Storyboard That, StoryJumper, Adobe Spark are other creative outlets for digital storytelling.

Google Slides can include text, pictures, videos, and be customized to the student’s taste.

Handwritten, recorded on video, collected into a digital format…no matter which option your student chooses, you gave them choice. Most importantly, though, you gave them a memory.