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Flipgrid is not a misfit toy: 10 ways that it can engage kids and improve historical thinking

A few weeks ago, I got hooked back into Flipgrid. I joined several years ago and messed with it a bit. Talked with others about it. Used it a few times. And then, like a lot of the new tools I get the chance to play with, I threw it on the pile with the rest on the Island of Misfit Toys.

Not that it was broken. Some other shiny thing caught my attention and I moved on.

Then last month I needed something quick, easy, and fun to use with a group of elementary teachers for a reflection activity. So . . . Flipgrid. And it was awesome. I’m back.

Not sure what Flipgrid is?

Flipgrid is a tool that provides a digital place for your kids to share, reflect, and respond to prompts, images, primary sources, or just about anything with you, each other, and others beyond your classroom. It’s a great way to hear from all of your students and for students to hear from each other.

And it’s free. And it’s web-based. And has both iOS and Android app versions. And it’s easy to use. Did I say that it’s free? (There is a $65 per year version but unless you become a serious user, free works just fine.)

As the teacher, you create a topic. Click a few buttons. Share the unique URL with students. They access the topic with any internet device with a camera. They click the record button. Talk for 90 seconds. Click submit. All of these student videos appear on the topic grid. You and students can now view and respond to each video. Learning happens. Done.

Trust me. This is super easy peasy simple. But feel free to jump over to the tutorials and help sections to get videos and more specifics.

Check out YouTube if you’re curious:

Your brain should be working overtime right about now with ideas of what this might look like in your classroom. Browsing these ten suggestions can help:

Exit card
Use Flipgrid to quickly gather some formative assessment data at the end og learning. Post a question or prompt and ask kids to respond.

Post as historical character
Ask students to think and respond as if they are Lincoln or FDR or Ida Wells or Genghis Khan or Susan B. Anthony or whomever. Extend the learning by having students create a script or storyboard before posting.

Create groups of two or three to deliver historical newscast
The newscast could be from wherever and whenever you want. And, yes, require a script or storyboard.

Does anyone still use the What I Know, What I Want to Know, What I Learned graphic organizer? Probably not. Because we all overused it. But the dynamic changes when we ask kids to do it in video format.

Where are we? When are we?
Create a topic and provide three clues that describe a specific place or event. Students guess by posting video responses and then reply to each other.

Video mashup
Create a topic but ask students to record a video using some other tool and upload that video instead of using the basic Flipgrid recording option. On a tablet, this tool could be Tellagami. If you’re using Chromebooks or other laptops, try Powtoon or Spark Video.

Collaborate with another class
Exchange topic URLs with another social studies teachers. Students from other places then respond to your prompt and vice versa. Perfect for learning about other states or locations.

Share topic URL with ELA teacher
Same idea but now you’re integrating fiction and nonfiction into your social studies content.

Post a primary source in your topic
Have kids practice their historical thinking skills by having them source and contextualize a document, photo, political cartoon, or painting. Be sure to turn on the Moderation setting before sharing the URL with your students. This requires that the all post their thinking without being able to view other student thinking. Once all students have posted, moderate their posts so they can view and respond to each other.

Rank multiple primary sources
Post two or more primary sources and ask kids to rank them and explain their rankings with evidence.

I’m curious. What other ways could a social studies teacher use Flipgrid?


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