Today’s Contributor: Erica De Los Santos
This is my fourth year teaching in Austin ISD. I currently teach third grade math and science at Joslin Elementary. I am an avid runner and thoroughly enjoy the outdoors. I am not only the CIC at Joslin, but I am also our SEL Facilitator and Campus Wellness Champion. This is my first year as a CIC and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences. I look forward to continuing being a technology integration advocate next year! Follow me on twitter or my website!
This year I discovered an amazing online discussion tool called Flipgrid. It has changed the way I have students collaborate and share thoughts.
In the beginning of my exploration with Flipgrid, I utilized it as a reflection tool during my SEL lessons. The marriage of Flipgrid and SEL was a seamless one. When I saw its immediate impact, I was shocked I hadn’t considered a tool like this one before. In the past, I have always encouraged discussions in class, but there was always the issue of not having every voice heard. Whether it be because a child is too shy, or there are too many strong personalities for everyone to get a chance, some voices always go unheard. Flipgrid solved this problem in my classroom.
I have one student in particular who, prior to Flipgrid, never participated in whole-class discussions. Even one-on-one the student struggled to talk about what they were thinking or feeling. The first time I introduced Flipgrid, we reflected on how compassion led to innovation by watching a video about how 3D printers have been used to create prosthetics for those who can’t afford them. I asked the students some reflection questions, showed them how Flipgrid worked, and let them have at it. I was blown away by all the insightful responses, but I’ll admit I still expected to see no post from that timid student. When I clicked on that student’s video and heard their voice—no longer timid—and heard their thoughts, it was a very powerful moment for me. In the single act of deciding to implement this new tool I enhanced the learning experience of this student tremendously.
Since then I have used Flipgrid in a variety of ways in my classroom. Students post anything from video reflections to quadrilateral commercials—yes, we’re that nerdy in third grade!—all of which have had different impacts on different students. Now, I hesitated to be entirely satisfied with my timid student only sharing via Flipgrid; I worried that perhaps she’d never learn to speak up in front of her peers, but she certainly put my mind at ease one day. During a lesson, a question was posed to the class, and it caught me by total surprise when the student raised her hand and was willing to share in front of her peers. That is when I realized that by creating the opportunity for her voice to be heard through technology, it gave her the confidence to open up in front of her class. Her natural progression was not created because of Flipgrid, but because of the the opportunities Flipgrid allowed me to offer her.
Web-based tools like Flipgrid can be more than just an engagement factor; they can serve as an intervention tool that assists in creating a level of differentiation that enriches learning and empowers your students.