Using Flipgrid to Improve Speaking Skills

This Fall, I have been using a video response tool called Flipgrid to help improve my students’ speaking skills. Flipgrid is a video platform used by over 30,000 teachers to ignite classroom discussions and promote social learning. In Flipgrid, teachers post discussion topics to which students respond with videos, providing every student an equal voice, increasing retention, and encouraging peer-led learning. Full Disclosure: Flipgrid asked me to join their Ambassador program and bribed me with stickers, t-shirts, and love. This program rocks and I have fallen in love with Flipgrid.

Since September, my students have created 304 video responses to 10 topics on 5 grids. They have viewed each others’ videos 6,324 times resulting in 1 year and 139 days of total viewing time. After some trial and error, I primarily use two grids: US History and World History for the majority of my assignments. I can add new topics and keep the majority of my student work organized. I am trying to use Flipgrid once or twice a month to check for understanding and see how well students can verbalize their thought process. Part of the impetus for using Flipgrid came from my principal who is fond of asking “How do you know if they have learned from your instruction?”  With Flipgrid, I can just click and let my students speak for themselves.

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In the above example, I asked my students to play a “Who Am I?” game with their individual Enlightenment Philosophes. The students had 90 seconds to tell us everything about their philosophe except their name, then we would use the videos to review for the final exam on the Enlightenment. Because Flipgrid allows you to download the individual videos, I was able to upload the best to YouTube (unlisted) and then create a video Kahoot for the students to use as a review game. This was a big hit.

So far, I have asked my World History students to explain differences between Roman and US checks and balances in government, paraphrase three stories from The Adventures of Ulysses, and elaborate on historical details from the French Revolution. My US History students have had to conduct to a say, mean, matter on the Preamble to the constitution, justify eliminating four Amendments from the Bill of Rights, demonstrate an Academic Conversation about Imperialism, tell the story of the Panama Canal, and preview three arguments for an essay about civil disobedience. I am at the beginning of my Flipgrid adventure. This tool will help me show growth in student speaking skills. I can see using Flipgrid this spring to fine tune the work I am doing with my ASCD Teacher Impact Grant colleagues as we participate in a video lesson study on student speaking skills. Further, by sharing Flipgrid with the 300 Social Studies teachers participating in the Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Teacher 2 Teacher Collaborative, this important tool can dramatically increase the amount of student speaking assignments in classrooms. Try Flipgrid One for free and share how you used it in the comments section.

Performance-Based Assessments

The NCSS Social Studies Performance-Based Assessment Clearinghouse has been created to provide:

  1. examples of social studies performance-based assessment measures conducted at local and state levels
  2. research findings that support the use of performance-based assessment to inform instruction, and
  3. existing educational policies that can inform advocacy efforts for the inclusion of social studies performance-based assessment at the local, state and national level.

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Many teachers have created their own performance assessments that could be included in this archive. For instance, my students were recently asked to take notes on a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte. Then, they were asked to use their textbook to corroborate or match the historical details from the video biography and provide a page number as a citation.

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The chart above illustrates that advanced students were able to corroborate 12-20 facts in one 53-minute class period, while lower-achieving students could only match 1 to 5 historical details from the textbook to the film in the same timeframe. This population of 9th and 10th grade World History students (N=30) had an average performance of 7.87 historical matches. This activity gives students a purpose for taking notes and immediate feedback on the usefulness of their note-taking techniques. The image below shows how students matched video content to the historical details in their textbook.

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Courage to Care Essay Assignment

You are a judge for the Anti-Defamation League’s Courage to Care competition. You have reviewed the accomplishments of all four nominees. Now you must select the award winner. Provide some general information about the historical context of this time. Be sure to state your claims clearly and explain your reasoning with evidence from the readings.

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Write a 400-500 word essay that selects one of five candidates for an ADL Courage To Care Award. Include background on the Holocaust and a thesis with at least three reasons why the candidate you chose deserves the award over the other three candidates. Be sure to make at least 7 claims with (6 explanations).

For example, John Doe deserves the Courage to Care award for saving x number of Jewish lives, putting his family at risk, and serving jail time to protect others.