At the start of the school year, I was contacted by a 7th-grade Spanish teacher who was looking for more ways to engage her students with the content, as well as provide them with additional opportunities to practice speaking. She was very comfortable trying new technology-so it was a win from the start!
The first thing we talked about was finding more opportunities for the students to practice speaking. Immediately, I thought of FlipGrid. If you haven’t caught #FlipGridFever yet…what are you waiting for? (Flipgrid is an online video discussion tool that has many possible uses in the classroom.) I scheduled some time and worked with the teacher in her classroom to introduce FlipGrid to her students and give them the opportunity to try it out. They were working on their first unit of study which included concepts such as their name, age, birthday, favorite color… For their first assignment, the teacher provided them with sentence stems in Spanish to help the students with their responses. She then scaffolded the next assignments using FlipGrid, gradually taking away the support she provided. At the end of the unit, she used FlipGrid as a tool to deliver her assessment. She continues to integrate FlipGrid into each of her units to provide her students additional time to practice speaking.
The next unit they were going to be working on was leisure verbs. We brainstormed how to engage the students with the content while addressing the reading, writing, listening and speaking standards. Since she has access to iPads, we decided to create a QR code scavenger hunt. We set everything up in the library, to allow the students more room to move around. As we collaborated on this project, we created a shared Google Doc where we were able to organize the different stations, links and QR codes in preparation for the lesson. Of course, one of the stations was a link to a FlipGrid! It was great! The students were actively engaged with the content, on task and had fun 😃
Most recently, we talked about an alternate way for her students to present their weather reports. In the past, she had her students create a PowerPoint and/or do an oral presentation in front of the class. I had been seeing a lot about the DoInk app on Twitter and decided to try it out with this project. Once again we used Google to help us collaborate on the project. We set up a shared folder for each of her classes in which we would store the images students found and wanted to use as their background images. (Since DoInk is a paid app, we had it installed on 3 iPads and used those for the filming and students were able to access the shared Google Drive folders). Prior to the filming, students researched cities and their weather forecasts wrote a script and many of them even made cue cards! For the day of the filming, I borrowed three iPad stands and set up three green screens (we had one REAL green screen background, and two green plastic tablecloths as stand-ins). Once again we were in the library, which allowed us to set up the three recording areas at one end, and then had the students who were not involved in the taping at the moment working on computers at the other end.
On the first day, I started class by giving the students an overview of the DoInk app and process for recording. Each group chose someone to be their ‘camera person’. This was completely student driven and the adults were available to help troubleshoot any technical issues they may have had. All the videos were saved in our pre-made shared Google Drive folders and then they were uploaded to YouTube to an UNLISTED playlist. This was then shared with the students so they were able to watch videos made by students in all classes. Once again, the students were engaged, on task and they didn’t even realize the learning that was going (actually standing up and presenting in Spanish!) on because they were so focused on creating the video.
The librarian at this school was an integral part of these project as well. Not only did she provide us with her space for a number of days, but she took a vested interest in the new technology we were using so that she could be another resource for the students. In addition, she has been spreading the word about the different methods for engaging students with technology. In fact, she worked with a social studies teacher to create a QR code scavenger hunt for the Revolutionary War #BuildingCapacity.
Since this project was done in the library, and there were a lot of people going in and out throughout the day. Needless to say, there were many VERY curious teachers…and I think a lot of them were a lil green with envy…