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Session Description

Metacognition – “thinking about one’s thinking” – has been linked to improved learning outcomes. Research has shown that metacognition promotes deeper learning and affects whether students can transfer and apply their knowledge to new scenarios. Teachers can scaffold metacognition by asking students to explain their thought process. By asking, “how did you figure that out?” or “talk through your solution,” teachers can help students reflect on the process and tease out the strategies they chose to use in solving problems. What’s more, by providing opportunities for students to revise and analyze errors, teachers help students see more clearly how their thinking has improved and oftentimes allows them to see the solution differently.

This session will examine specific examples using Pear Deck, Flipgrid, and Sutori. Participants will learn how to create student-paced Pear Deck activities with embedded Flipgrid prompts to create exercises that allow students to reflect on how they are understanding the new information they are receiving. Teachers can use multiple choice questions to do quick learning checks and then provide space for open-ended text responses for students to explain how they arrived at their solution, why they chose the answer they did, and if—once presented with some new knowledge—they would change anything. At the conclusion of the activity, teachers can use Pear Deck Takeaways to have students revise errors and talk about how their understanding of the topic has improved to help them arrive at a new solution to the problem. Having students evaluate how they approached problems done in the past is an important component of the learning process. As students reflect, they are forced to tap into prior knowledge to connect new ideas to things they already know. By actively reflecting on what they learned and how they learned it, students are able to grow their understandings beyond rote memorization. And in the reflection process, students become aware of holes in their knowledge. This awareness is a powerful component in helping students learn how to learn.

Sutori is another edtech tool that will be showcased in this session. Participants will be walked through an activity asking students to look back on past work and document how it directly relates to their new knowledge. Reflection is key to learning, and this project provides students the opportunity to form a deeper understanding of connections between the chapters being studied. As with the Pear Deck activity, Flipgrid is infused into this activity to allow students the opportunity to talk out their thought process directly to their webcam.

LINKS: Flipgrid to Verbalize Process

Flipgrid Student Videos for Test Prep: https://flipgrid.com/115ed5

Blog Post: Using Flipgrid in Online AP Calculus to Allow Students to Verbalize Their Thinking Process

———-

Blog Post: Flipgrid Collab with @ADickie601’s Class — AP Calculus Final Review

———-

Video: Why & How I Use Flipgrid in my High School Math Classroom

 

LINKS: Documenting Reflective Thinking Using Sutori

Sutori Exemplar: https://www.sutori.com/story/ap-calculus-trimester-1-project–JxudRDjhWRCUfb9fuYUPkScK

Blog Post: Documenting Growth & Reflecting on Connections Using Sutori with Embedded Flipgrid Responses

———-

Video: Using Sutori in Math Class

 

LINKS: Pear Deck Activities

Pear Deck Optimization Activity: https://app.peardeck.com/student/toelaevnz

Blog Post: Using Pear Deck with Embedded Flipgrid Questions to Develop Deeper Connections

———-

Pear Deck Multiplication Activity: https://app.peardeck.com/student/tqyqeohxd

 

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The idea: for students to watch the last video posted & pick up the solution from where the last student’s Flipgrid left off. Emphasis: verbalizing the solution process & learning from students outside of our class

 

To all of my fellow AP teachers out there, you know that feeling the weeks leading up the AP Exam where you know the importance of drilling in on practice tests and reviewing scoring guidelines, but you want to spice it up so that it doesn’t just feel like you’re prepping for this massive test.

This year, I got to collab with Andrea Dickie, who also teaches AP Calculus AB. Andrea and I both teach in Maryland, but she teaches in a public school in a different county.

Andrea and I coordinated an activity in Flipgrid so that our students could collaboratively talk out their solutions to a past AP Calc AB FRQ and then critique the solutions of two videos they wanted to review.

Goal: to collaboratively complete the 2018 FRQs even though our classes have never met. Each student is tasked w/watching the last video response & solving the next piece of the question that follows

In summary, each student was asked to pick up the solution from where the last person’s Flipgrid left off. So student 1 responded to the Flipgrid by answering question 1(a). Then, student 2 watched the Flipgrid response to question 1(a) (to get to the same spot where the first person left off) and created a Flipgrid response to 1(b).

Here are more specifics on the instructions we used —

PART 1 — CREATE A VIDEO SOLUTION
  • watch the last Flipgrid video posted to see which question needs to be solved next
    • remember, you will be solving the next part of the next question that needs to be solved
      • so if the last person who posted a video solved 3(b), you would solve 3(c)*
        • in case any of these videos get out of order, just look at which questions have been posted and do the next sub-problem that you see unsolved
        • if we’ve reached the last problem (ie: 6(c) has already been solved) and you still need to post a solution, just start back at 1(a)
  • on a piece of paper, neatly and carefully write out your full response to the question you are solving. make sure you have either printed out the problem or have re-written it at the top of your paper. you’ll need this for your Flipgrid recording.
    • you should consult the scoring guidelines to check your answer before you record your Flipgrid. if you have made any mistakes, fix them. but don’t mindlessly copy the scoring guidelines. you will be graded on the clarity of your explanation. so if you write it on your paper, you need to understand it well enough to explain!
  • open the Flipgrid app on your phone and enter Flip code: _add code here___
  • watch my video introduction to make sure you fully understand all instructions and expectations
  • hit the big green “+” sign and log in
  • you will have 5 minutes to record your response. by no means does your video need to be that long!
  • alternate between using your front camera to record your lovely face and the back camera to record your handwritten work
    • your video should start by identifying the problem you are solving. show us the question and read it aloud to us before you begin solving.
    • you can click the pause button if you need a break mid-recording
    • press next when you are done recording & review your response
    • for your “selfie”, take a snapshot of the problem/your solution but DO NOT hit submit until you…
      • hit the pencil icon at the top right of the screen. use your finger to write the question you just solved… like this:
      • now you can hit submit
So what happens if…
  • I start solving a problem and somebody else posts the solution that I’m working on
  • I start a problem but don’t have time to finish it and need to come back to record later

If this happens, then we will have two of the same solutions in the Flipgrid. This might happen in a couple of instances. The goal is for you to watch the previous solution post, understand where that person has left off, and pick up the next part of the solution from there. If the Flipgrid gets a little out of order, or if a couple of answers have more than one reply, we can clean that up later. It’s no big deal!

Note: this DID in fact happen in a couple of instances! 

 

PART 2 — CREATE A VIDEO REPLY

After everyone has posted and we have answers to all 6 FRQs, it’s time to reply.

  • print out the 2018 scoring guidelines so you have them in front of you
  • go back to our Flipgrid solution posts: ___add link here________
  • pick two videos that you have not yet watched (meaning not the problem you solved or the video solution that your answer followed-up on)
  • for each video that you watch, compare the solution and explanation to the scoring guidelines. in your Flipgrid reply, get ready to talk about:
    • particular strengths in the video solution you watched
    • any areas that the video solution skimmed over or missed
    • if any points would have been missed based on the scoring guidelines for this question, what was missing and what should be added?
    • anything you would have done differently if you were to solve this problem
    • one major takeaway you had from watching this solution and/or reviewing the scoring guidelines
  • when you are ready to record, hit the reply icon within the video you are responding to.

 

OUTCOMES & REFLECTIONS

I think that one of the best things about doing this activity was:

  1.  my students got to hear how other students, from a different school and with a different teacher, thought about and went about solving a problem;
  2. it served as extra motivation for students to complete the assignment since they knew that the success of this project relied on their contribution;
  3. students took extra time to thoroughly verbalize their solution process since they knew that somebody from outside of our class would be trying to understand their video solution.

What I love most about using Flipgrid in my math class, in general, is the ability to hear students talk through their solution. We can gain so much valuable insight into what students are doing right and what might be holding them back when we ask them to talk through solutions in this way. It also helps the student self-identify what they know and what they don’t know. So many times my students have told me that they thought their solution was solid until they went to record their Flipgrid and fumbled to justify how to get from step (a) to step (b). And for me, when grading, that’s really all I zone in on — is the student’s response fluid or choppy, have they skimmed over certain key areas, etc?

To close, I’ll share some of the wins and fails from this collab. So the first fail may have been how we assigned this. Andrea and I had coordinated a specific date for students to initially respond and then another day where students would do the commentary. The way we talk about “due dates” at our schools are a little different so, we had a small glitch in how we communicated things to our students. So Andrea’s students were contributing a bunch of responses before my students got started… but it ended up turning out okay in the end! But that was the first lesson learned.

Next up is a win: both Andrea and I were at a point in the year where students were consistently missing deadlines. For me, all but one of my students engaged in this assignment and put their full effort into giving a detailed solution. So I would say that having this accountability to an audience beyond just our class was really helpful.

On the commentary end, students were instructed to focus replies on students outside of our class. Neither Andrea nor my students quite got this part right… This taught me that there is definitely a level of comfort required and perhaps something that we needed to ease into or more explicitly state. Looking back, we would have benefited from getting this idea started earlier so that we could have done an intro Flipgrid where students said hello to one another or something light to get them chatting. From there, we could have launched into this assignment. That being said, students did a great job sticking to the guidelines we posted regarding how to structure their Flipgrid response. Students were really thoughtful about analyzing their peers’ solution, comparing it with the scoring guidelines, and reflecting on things they would do the same/differently if they were to solve the same problem. I would definitely recommend posting guidelines for the commentary if you choose to do something similar in your classroom.

Overall, this was a great experience! I think that the most challenging part about this type of assignment is just doing it that first time and being in-sync on when your calendar can align with somebody from another school. In the future, I would pick one buddy class (Andrea, can we do this again?!) and make sure that we do a small handful of assignments like this. And, like I said above, start with an “introductions” Flipgrid. As I’ve learned in doing Flipgrid assignments in general, students get so much better at verbalizing their solution process by repeatedly doing this type of activity. It also takes them a while to understand what a “reflection” response should look and sound like. Ramping them up to doing these types of assignments well definitely pays off. So in the future, I’ll have to think of this collab in the same way.

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The idea: for students to watch the last video posted & pick up the solution from where the last student’s Flipgrid left off. Emphasis: verbalizing the solution process & learning from students outside of our class

To all of my fellow AP teachers out there, you know that feeling the weeks leading up the AP Exam where you know the importance of drilling in on practice tests and reviewing scoring guidelines, but you want to spice it up so that it doesn’t just feel like you’re prepping for this massive test.

This year, I got to collab with Andrea Dickie, who also teaches AP Calculus AB. Andrea and I both teach in Maryland, but she teaches in a public school in a different county.

Andrea and I coordinated an activity in Flipgrid so that our students could collaboratively talk out their solutions to a past AP Calc AB FRQ and then critique the solutions of two videos they wanted to review.

Goal: to collaboratively complete the 2018 FRQs even though our classes have never met. Each student is tasked w/watching the last video response & solving the next piece of the question that follows

In summary, each student was asked to pick up the solution from where the last person’s Flipgrid left off. So student 1 responded to the Flipgrid by answering question 1(a). Then, student 2 watched the Flipgrid response to question 1(a) (to get to the same spot where the first person left off) and created a Flipgrid response to 1(b).

Here are more specifics on the instructions we used —

PART 1 — CREATE A VIDEO SOLUTION
  • watch the last Flipgrid video posted to see which question needs to be solved next
    • remember, you will be solving the next part of the next question that needs to be solved
      • so if the last person who posted a video solved 3(b), you would solve 3(c)*
        • in case any of these videos get out of order, just look at which questions have been posted and do the next sub-problem that you see unsolved
        • if we’ve reached the last problem (ie: 6(c) has already been solved) and you still need to post a solution, just start back at 1(a)
  • on a piece of paper, neatly and carefully write out your full response to the question you are solving. make sure you have either printed out the problem or have re-written it at the top of your paper. you’ll need this for your Flipgrid recording.
    • you should consult the scoring guidelines to check your answer before you record your Flipgrid. if you have made any mistakes, fix them. but don’t mindlessly copy the scoring guidelines. you will be graded on the clarity of your explanation. so if you write it on your paper, you need to understand it well enough to explain!
  • open the Flipgrid app on your phone and enter Flip code: _add code here___
  • watch my video introduction to make sure you fully understand all instructions and expectations
  • hit the big green “+” sign and log in
  • you will have 5 minutes to record your response. by no means does your video need to be that long!
  • alternate between using your front camera to record your lovely face and the back camera to record your handwritten work
    • your video should start by identifying the problem you are solving. show us the question and read it aloud to us before you begin solving.
    • you can click the pause button if you need a break mid-recording
    • press next when you are done recording & review your response
    • for your “selfie”, take a snapshot of the problem/your solution but DO NOT hit submit until you…
      • hit the pencil icon at the top right of the screen. use your finger to write the question you just solved… like this:
      • now you can hit submit
So what happens if…
  • I start solving a problem and somebody else posts the solution that I’m working on
  • I start a problem but don’t have time to finish it and need to come back to record later

If this happens, then we will have two of the same solutions in the Flipgrid. This might happen in a couple of instances. The goal is for you to watch the previous solution post, understand where that person has left off, and pick up the next part of the solution from there. If the Flipgrid gets a little out of order, or if a couple of answers have more than one reply, we can clean that up later. It’s no big deal!

Note: this DID in fact happen in a couple of instances! 

PART 2 — CREATE A VIDEO REPLY

After everyone has posted and we have answers to all 6 FRQs, it’s time to reply.

  • print out the 2018 scoring guidelines so you have them in front of you
  • go back to our Flipgrid solution posts: ___add link here________
  • pick two videos that you have not yet watched (meaning not the problem you solved or the video solution that your answer followed-up on)
  • for each video that you watch, compare the solution and explanation to the scoring guidelines. in your Flipgrid reply, get ready to talk about:
    • particular strengths in the video solution you watched
    • any areas that the video solution skimmed over or missed
    • if any points would have been missed based on the scoring guidelines for this question, what was missing and what should be added?
    • anything you would have done differently if you were to solve this problem
    • one major takeaway you had from watching this solution and/or reviewing the scoring guidelines
  • when you are ready to record, hit the reply icon within the video you are responding to.
OUTCOMES & REFLECTIONS

I think that one of the best things about doing this activity was:

  1.  my students got to hear how other students, from a different school and with a different teacher, thought about and went about solving a problem;
  2. it served as extra motivation for students to complete the assignment since they knew that the success of this project relied on their contribution;
  3. students took extra time to thoroughly verbalize their solution process since they knew that somebody from outside of our class would be trying to understand their video solution.

What I love most about using Flipgrid in my math class, in general, is the ability to hear students talk through their solution. We can gain so much valuable insight into what students are doing right and what might be holding them back when we ask them to talk through solutions in this way. It also helps the student self-identify what they know and what they don’t know. So many times my students have told me that they thought their solution was solid until they went to record their Flipgrid and fumbled to justify how to get from step (a) to step (b). And for me, when grading, that’s really all I zone in on — is the student’s response fluid or choppy, have they skimmed over certain key areas, etc?

To close, I’ll share some of the wins and fails from this collab. So the first fail may have been how we assigned this. Andrea and I had coordinated a specific date for students to initially respond and then another day where students would do the commentary. The way we talk about “due dates” at our schools are a little different so, we had a small glitch in how we communicated things to our students. So Andrea’s students were contributing a bunch of responses before my students got started… but it ended up turning out okay in the end! But that was the first lesson learned.

Next up is a win: both Andrea and I were at a point in the year where students were consistently missing deadlines. For me, all but one of my students engaged in this assignment and put their full effort into giving a detailed solution. So I would say that having this accountability to an audience beyond just our class was really helpful.

On the commentary end, students were instructed to focus replies on students outside of our class. Neither Andrea nor my students quite got this part right… This taught me that there is definitely a level of comfort required and perhaps something that we needed to ease into or more explicitly state. Looking back, we would have benefited from getting this idea started earlier so that we could have done an intro Flipgrid where students said hello to one another or something light to get them chatting. From there, we could have launched into this assignment. That being said, students did a great job sticking to the guidelines we posted regarding how to structure their Flipgrid response. Students were really thoughtful about analyzing their peers’ solution, comparing it with the scoring guidelines, and reflecting on things they would do the same/differently if they were to solve the same problem. I would definitely recommend posting guidelines for the commentary if you choose to do something similar in your classroom.

Overall, this was a great experience! I think that the most challenging part about this type of assignment is just doing it that first time and being in-sync on when your calendar can align with somebody from another school. In the future, I would pick one buddy class (Andrea, can we do this again?!) and make sure that we do a small handful of assignments like this. And, like I said above, start with an “introductions” Flipgrid. As I’ve learned in doing Flipgrid assignments in general, students get so much better at verbalizing their solution process by repeatedly doing this type of activity. It also takes them a while to understand what a “reflection” response should look and sound like. Ramping them up to doing these types of assignments well definitely pays off. So in the future, I’ll have to think of this collab in the same way.

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I had the wonderful opportunity to write a guest blog post for the DBC Inc Blog! Make sure to check it out.

Our personal journeys are powerful. In Tech with Heart: Leveraging Technology to Empower Student Voice, Ease Anxiety, & Create Compassionate Classrooms, I take you through some of the classroom experience from my lens. My personal experiences as an introverted student who struggled with perfectionism have had profound impact on the educator I have become. As a teacher, technology has opened up brand new opportunities in my classroom — to develop a more inclusive classroom environment, empower student voice, ease anxiety, and to allow me to bring a deeper level of compassion to my teaching.

For me, embracing technology in my classroom design has allowed me to:

  • create more time for one-on-one interaction with my students.
  • quickly see where students are struggling.
  • give all students (even introverts and those who need more time to process) the opportunity to share their voice and show their learning.
  • reduce stress in the most rigorous classes I teach, both in the classroom and in homework assignments.

One of my biggest goals in writing Tech with Heart is to spark a conversation around whole-child wellness. The reality is that many of our students seem to have it all together on the surface but may be struggling internally. How do we recognize this as teachers, schools, and parents? For my style of teaching, technology has been a huge answer. 

Check out the full blog post to read about the themes and conversations I hope to spark in writing Tech with Heart.

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I had another opportunity to contribute a piece to the #ArtOfTeaching series, by McGraw-Hill. I wanted to share that post here…

It is exciting to see conversations related to whole-child well-being coming to the forefront in education. How can we leverage technology to be a part of the solution and help bring a new level of empathy and compassion to our teaching? My personal experiences as an introverted student who struggled with perfectionism have had profound impact on the educator I have become. By embracing technology, I have been able to develop a more inclusive classroom environment where all students can feel comfortable sharing their ideas and voice.

Click to continue reading…

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I wanted to feature a guest blog post written by my colleague Marcie Demers. Marcie has taken such a thoughtful, reflective approach to tech integration in her classroom. I wanted to share some of her end-of-year musings here.

by Marcie Demers

Last year, in my continuing quest to enhance learning and engagement in my Middle School English classroom, I discovered HyperDocs — and I am obsessed! Experimenting with this tool, I have begun to transform my units of study into more dynamic and student-centered experiences.  

What exactly is a HyperDoc?

A “HyperDoc”, a term coined by Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill, and Sarah Landis, is essentially a digital document that is hyperlinked with resources and tools that support a unit or topic. However, it is not simply a doc with hyperlinks.  It is created in such a way that students must interact with the content, apply critical thinking skills, and show their learning. HyperDocs support:

  • flexibility
  • self-paced work
  • tech integration
  • personalization
  • accountability
  • multimodal learning
  • formative assessment
  • authentic learning
  • resourcefulness
  • interdisciplinary connections

So how did I create one?

I didn’t start from scratch. I discovered hyperdocs.co (created by Hilton, Highfill, and Landis) where teachers can access templates and search for digital lessons that relate to their subject or topic.  At this time, the 6th grade was immersed in our “Weight of Water” PBL unit, and I was looking for ways to support our inquiry about the local and global water crisis. On this site, I found several HyperDocs that connected to our PBL-related novel, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I combined tech tools and resources from these examples and added my own customization to further align it with our PBL essential questions:

  • How does water affect our lives here and in this world?
  • What is our role in the water story?

Finally, I inserted game pieces to help students track their progress, an idea I also acquired from my research on hyperdocs.co.

Source #1 Source #2
My Version

You can explore it here: The Weight of Water PBL Gameboard

How did it go?

When I introduced this HyperDoc to my 6th-graders, they were immediately drawn to its visual appeal, clear organization, and game-like structure.  They appreciated the idea of taking ownership of their learning and having access to such a variety of multimedia components about our topic.

This HyperDoc served a variety of purposes.  Some days, I used it as an anticipatory set in which we would watch the video together and process the content through discussion.  Students would then show their learning by responding to the prompt via padlet.com or our class blog. On other days, it was a go-to for students who wondered, “What do I do next?” as well as a motivator for those who needed that extra incentive to learn.  

Did it support student learning?

Absolutely. I was able to assess student understanding along the way – reviewing their responses on Padlet or the class blog as well as working with individuals and small groups while they engaged with the HyperDoc and each other. This learning experience culminated with a video response on Flipgrid in which students synthesized what they learned from the novel and the resources on the HyperDoc.  In their Flipgrid, they reflected on the following questions:

  1. Why do you believe Linda Sue Park’s story of Nya and Salva is important to tell?
  2. How has the book changed your understanding of a world problem?
  3. What actions will you take now or in the future to help?

Their responses revealed deeper learning and authentic connections to our PBL topic and class novel. Here is a student sample response: https://flipgrid.com/s/b8e9cfaeb0ea

Will I continue to use HyperDocs?

I haven’t stopped experimenting with HyperDocs! Since then, I have used them to support students in meeting a variety of instructional goals, such as:

  • Writing quality comments on student blog and discussion posts
  • Examining PSAs and determining common elements
  • Planning, researching, and producing PSAs
  • Gaining background knowledge before reading

Do you want to know more?

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I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed being a guest on this podcast with Ken_Bauer. We talk about #TechWithHeart, the influence of Jo Boaler, perfectionism, how/why I began infusing Pear Deck, Flipgrid, Edpuzzle and a #flipclass model, & much more. Things get pretty personal, but I’m so glad that Ken dug deep with the questions he asked so that listeners can truly understand my ‘why‘.

Check out the full episode here…
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Last May, my colleague — middle school math teacher Caitlin Zolet — was looking to bring some fun and creative expression to exam review for her pre-algebra students. Inspired by math wall clocks, Caitlin decided to have her students pull together skills they had learned over the course of the year to design clocks of their own.

Last school year, students created these clocks on paper. After perfecting a math expression or equation to correspond to each number on the clock, students drew their “math clock.” In class, students exchanged clocks with one another to work through the various projects and sharpen the various pre-algebra skills each expression required them to apply.

This school year, Caitlin decided to take things up a notch and have students actually design real, working clocks in our BITlab.

From creating in EquatIO’s Mathspace, to spray painting, to laser etching in the BITlab

Screenshots of student work in EquatIO’s Mathspace

Assignment Details:

For their cumulative trimester project, pre-algebra students were tasked with designing an analog clock face using the information they had learned over the course of the year. They were to use expressions and equations that, when solved or simplified, would equal a number on the clock face.

Students were asked to:

  1. create a rough draft on paper with an answer key
  2. create a clockface on EquatIO Math Space; download the final image as a PNG
  3. insert the clockface PNG image downloaded in step 2 onto this Google Drawing template
  4. spray paint their CD
  5. laser etch their clockface onto their painted CD in the BITlab
Outcomes:

Caitlin noted some of the following highlights from this year’s version of the Clock Project:

  • Improved outcomes:
    • Students gained technology fluency through writing the equations on EquatIO, importing their designs onto Google Drawing, and then using the Laser Engraver in the BITlab.
    • MakerEd enhanced this project because students were more invested in creating something tangible.
  • Artistic element: The original plan was for students to spray paint the CDs a solid color; however, students independently took the design process a step further and did graffiti-style art on the clocks. Their designs far exceeded expectations and added even more to the project.
  • Repurposing materials: Students realized that they could make something completely new from repurposed materials, like old CD’s. The clock kits (hands and battery element) were inexpensive as well. Students realized very few resources were needed to bring these clocks to life!
  • Exposure: It was great to get Middle School students into the BITlab to expose them to opportunities they can extend upon in the Upper School.

Students spray painting the CD’s

Final Projects:

Here is a collage of some final student work —

See post on Bullis Technology Blog
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I wanted to feature a guest blog post written by my colleague Kendall Strickler. Kendall has done some amazing work with her 3rd graders using Flipgrid this school year. I wanted to showcase her reflections on the impact of incorporating these Flipgrid activities into her classes as they couldn’t be more in-line with my experiences.

by Kendall Strickler

I was a shy kid growing up. I didn’t like to raise my hand in school very often. I usually knew the answer, but I just did not like speaking up in class. My report cards always reflected a poor grade in “class participation” and comments from teachers always lamented the fact that I didn’t speak up more. It annoyed me that introverted kids like me were judged that way. Back then, kids who raised their hand the most were considered the smartest. Students like me were rarely heard on so many levels. Fast forward to today. I am wrapping up my 15th year as a third grade teacher. I often reflect on my experiences as a student when thinking of ways for my students to show their thinking. “Class participation” looks so different now.

In the fall, I added something new to my language arts curriculum by joining the Global Read Aloud. This is an initiative where classrooms all over the world connect through the experience of a shared text. Some of the tech tools used to connect globally were Padlet, Flipgrid, and SeeSaw. I let my students explore all three of them and Flipgrid became an instant favorite. It gave everyone a chance to participate because everybody had a chance to respond to the prompts. Students who didn’t like speaking in front of the class only had to speak to their iPad. Students loved making their own videos and in turn, watching their classmate’s videos. What they really loved was connecting with students around the world about A Boy Called Bat, by Elena Arnold via Flipgrid.

Using the Global Read Aloud experience as the launch pad, I incorporated Flipgrid into other areas of our curriculum. I loved Flipgrid, too. I saw thinking from kids that I hadn’t seen before using pencil and paper. I have a student with dyslexia. She is a deep thinker and often understands the subtle, more complex messages and themes of a text but writing is a challenge for her. It is hard for her to show what she knows on paper. But, put her in front of her iPad with Flipgrid to let her use her voice and she will blow you away with her thinking. I have another student who has been in OT (occupational therapy) for years because the physical act of writing is challenging for him. It takes him ten minutes to write one sentence, and that one sentence is hard to read. Put him in front of his iPad and wow – the ideas and text interpretations he shares are amazing. I get to see a side of my students that I wouldn’t normally be able to in a traditional classroom.

My goal as a teacher is to come up with as many ways for students to show what they know. Flipgrid has now been added to the mix. As educators, we need to change the landscape so that all learners have an opportunity to shine. Not just the ones who raise their hands.

Kids who feel heard feel valued. Kids who feel valued love school. Kids who love school grow up to be life-long learners.

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We are getting close to the end of the school year and, to keep with tradition, I wanted to showcase some highlights from the Megacity Project all of our 9th grade Human Geography complete as their capstone project for the course. This course is taught by a team of three teachers, Ben Mosteller, Allison Ewing, and Kristin Kowalew.

To recap the project, Ben Mosteller wrote up the following details:

In the final unit of the course, students learn about urban land use and all of the complexities that come with the growth and sustainability of a city. They are assigned a megacity (a city whose metro area has at least 10 million residents) to research in depth. The essential question that drives the research project is “How has your megacity transformed the site (physical area) and situation (social, economic, political and cultural framework) of its area over time, and how will this impact the lives of its inhabitants in the next 50 years?” Students compile their research and showcase it on a website. Each tab of the website represents a different area of study from the course — from population and migration to cultural characteristics to environmental issues and how the leaders are addressing them. This intensive, 4-week project develops the following skills in our students: identifying reliable sources, taking notes, paraphrasing information, outlining and drafting content for the final product, locating copyright free images and non-text items for the final product, citing information and images, giving and using peer and teacher feedback to make revisions, and creating an annotated bibliography to summarize and evaluate sources.

To highlight some of the exemplary websites from this year, we asked students to record project reflections to a Flipgrid. To create a visual celebration of these projects, we decided to poster print the grid and add QR codes linked to the students’ website to display in the hall.

If you’re interested in seeing how we have tweaked things over the years, check out these links to writeups of the Megacity Project from past classes:

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