Isn’t it amazing how our favorite tech tools become verbs? “Google it” is, of course, the most ubiquitous, and my students get all excited when I tell them “we’re going to Kahoot today.” Well, I want to introduce another tool that I hope will wind its way into your verb vocabulary – Flipgrid.
Flipgrid is a marvel. In the simplest terms, it is a place to record short videos in response to a common prompt. These videos are then displayed on a grid, so you can easily view all of the responses. That is the simple version. Flipgrid is so much more.
Flipgrid was created by a graduate professor who was teaching an online class. He wanted some way of incorporating the face-to-face interaction that online classes lack, so he invented this nifty little program. Fortunately, other teachers got a hold of this program, and it began to grow.
I said that Flipgrid was so much more than just a place to record a response to a prompt, so you may be wondering exactly what you can do with Flipgrid. I know when I first started, the only possibility I saw was the basic one – I post a question; students respond. Happily, other teachers are more creative than me. Here are just some ideas for using Flipgrid:
Getting to know you – As part of their summer assignment, my AP Literature students had to post an intro to themselves. Before they even walked in my classroom, I knew something about them.
Progress report for a project – Have students show you where they are in completing a lengthy class project.
Reflections on a project, paper, etc. – Have students reflect on how they did on an assessment.
Communicating with other classes/experts – I don’t know about you, but my one attempt at using Skype to connect to another classroom was stress-inducing. Flipgrid may not give you instantaneous interaction, but it is much easier to use and multiple classes from different parts of the country or world can all post to the same grid. You can also use it to bring in different adult perspectives. Recently, Karla Hilliard invited her online friends to add to a Flipgrid about food memories for use in a unit she was conducting in her classes. Flipgrid has also used their platform to connect students with a scientist working in Antarctica and another expert on raptors.
Speaking practice – Whether you want your students to practice speaking in a foreign language, recite a poem, or see the effect of different tones on a text, Flipgrid will give you an easy platform for showing off students’ literal voices.
Be someone else – Who says you have to post as yourself? Why not post as a character in a book?
Library of expertise – Have your former students record messages for your current students or have your current students record expert messages for future reference. One of the first forays I made past the question-answer format was in conjunction with a multiple choice practice. Each student was assigned a single question. They had to craft an explanation of why the right answer was right, then post it to our Flipgrid. Instead of their names, they labeled each post with the question number. We then had a library of right answer explanations that any student could go back to for help with why they missed a particular question.
Feedback – When teachers in our county attend an in-service session, the feedback form they fill out in order to get credit is never shared with the instructor. This year, I had my in-service participants leave me feedback on a Flipgrid, so I instantly knew how they felt about the session!
These are just a few of the ways that Flipgrid can be used. I would suggest following #FlipgridFever on Twitter for more (there’s also a more comprehensive resource at the bottom of this post).
Two other great features of Flipgrid: it works with adults, and it’s great for subs. As you saw above, I’ve used Flipgrid with teachers as well as students. I also used it for a discussion in one of my doctorate classes. Adults are as nervous as students the first time, but the platform is so easy to use that they catch on pretty quickly. Flipgrid is also one of my main go-tos when I have to be absent. Wherever I am, I can see immediately when my students post to a grid, and it’s easy for the subs. Once my students know how to use the platform, I just tell the sub to instruct them to “Flipgrid it.”
Flipgrid bills itself as an avenue to grow student voice in the classroom, but one of the things I love most about it is its dedication to teacher voice. This is a company that truly listens to its consumers. If enough teachers are asking for a particular feature, chances are very good that it will be rolled out in the near future. Even better, they make their best stuff free – you heard me – FREE.
The free version of the program is called Flipgrid One and unlike most free versions of freemium programs, this one is a powerhouse. On Flipgrid One you get a single grid, but unlimited topics. This means that even if you have multiple classes, you can create different topics for all of them on the same grid. Student responses can be 15 seconds or 90 seconds long. You have all of the privacy and moderation settings that appear in the paid version, and you have all of the fancy posting features that come with the paid version. (They recently added a feature where students can add stickers to their selfie before posting and another where they can respond to posts with emojis.) You can also use the app for free which is available for both Apple and Android devices.
The paid version of the program is called Flipgrid Classroom. It is $65 a year, though at the beginning of school they were giving it away at a discount for only $40. If you are interested in trying it out, I’d suggest doing a little search on #FlipgridFever on Twitter. There is usually at least one code floating around that will give you a trial month for free. The main advantage you get with the paid version is that you can have multiple grids, so, for example, I have a grid for my AP Language class and another for my AP Literature class. I will reiterate, however, that though this is nice, it is by no means necessary. You can get along just fine with a single grid given that you get unlimited topics. Other advantages to the paid version include longer response times (up to 5 minutes), unlimited replies to responses, and customizable feedback. You also get the ability to freeze a topic which means it can still be viewed, but no one can post new responses to it (handy for setting deadlines). I do currently have the paid version because I lucked into a three-month free trial and then the discounted price, but I would suggest seeing if the free one will meet your needs first. It really does do a lot for a free version.
I could go on and on about how awesome this program is, but we all have other things to do. Instead, I’m going to give you my webmix full of all the awesome Flipgrid resources I find. That way, you can explore at your own leisure. I highly recommend the Flipgrid Unplugged videos if you want to learn a multitude of ways to utilize the platform. I’ll continue to update the webmix as I find new Flipgrid awesomeness.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that Flipgrid should be the next tech tool you try out. I just know, if you do, you’ll soon be using it as a verb!
Tia Miller teaches AP Lit, AP Lang, 10th Honors, and a film studies class in West Virginia.