Friday, April 21, 2017

Catch the Flipgrid fever! 15+ ways to use Flipgrid in your class.

If you haven't heard of Flipgrid yet then you will soon be seeing it everywhere. I had my first experience with Flipgrid on March 2nd in a #Ditchbook chat. I was hesitant to try it out and almost skipped the chat because I wasn't sure about trying to learn how to use yet another tool at 7pm on a Thursday night. However, Matt Miller and my Ditchbook pals Sandy Otto and Craig Klement assured me it was easy peasy and I decided to try it out. Boy am I sure glad I did! 

Flipgrid is a video response platform where educators can have online video discussions with students or other educators. Teachers can provide feedback to students AND better yet students can provide feedback to one another. With Flipgrid One (Free) you get one grid with unlimited topics. So if you have multiple classes or subject areas you can just create a different topic for each and share that topic code. With Flipgrid Classroom ($65 per year) you get unlimited grids, topics, responses and replies to responses. You can definitely do a TON with the free version so check that out first and if you decide to take it further then you can look into getting a classroom account. See out more info on the differences and how to get started here.

My first few experiences with Flipgrid were in a educational chat setting where a group of educators from all over the country shared ideas and inspired one another online. I have become so excited about using it with students and other educators that I have become a Flipgrid Ambassador. But don't take my word for it, check it out and try it yourself!

It really IS as easy as 1-2-3 to get started using Flipgrid with your class.
1. Create a discussion board and share the link with your class. (With the classroom account you can embed fully functional Flipgrid cards or a grid in Google Classroom, Haiku, Blackboard, Canvas, Schoology along many other sites or in an LMS)
2. Students record their video (Flipgrid can be used on ANY device)
3. You and your students reply to one another and take the discussions further.

So how can you use the Flipgrid with your class? Here are 15 ideas for using this video platform in your classroom. 

1.  Reading response goes digital. After your class reads an article, chapter or book have them respond to a question about their reading. Take the conversation further by having students comment on each other's responses.
2. End of year (semester) reflection. What better way to say goodbye than to have your students record a video reflecting on their learning over the course of your class? (I'm pretty sure many of these would require a box of tissues for those tear jerker posts!)
3. Advice to next year's class.  How cool is it to have a Flipgrid of advice videos from your current students to show next year's class? Check out this End of Year Reflection HyperDoc and link a Flipgrid in the share section.
4. Debate a topic! Add a Flipgrid to the share section of this "Great Debate" HyperDoc by Rayna Freedman to get your students debating.
5. Show what you know! Choice and voice are so important for getting students to share their knowledge with us. What better way to do that then to add Flipgrid as an option in a Show What You Know BINGO board?
6. Reflect on a lesson or unit. Seems simple but having your students reflect on a lesson is great feedback for us as teachers. How did it go? What changes would you make? What was your favorite part? Take a look at their responses for planning next year.
7. 30 second book talk challenge. Have your students share about their favorite book in 30 seconds or less. Check out this example.
8. Exit tickets get a makeover. Post the question "What did you learn today?" or better yet ask your students "What did you create today?" for the students to answer before leaving class.
9. Number talks. Have students explain their thinking and critique the reasoning of others as they work through a math problem.
10. Brainstorming in the Engineering Design Process. Students can jump very quickly to planning or even building before they get out their ideas in a brainstorming session. Slow them down a bit and capture their thinking as they throw out their ideas on Flipgrid. Add a Flipgrid to the brainstorm portion of this Intro to Engineering Design Process HyperDoc.
11. Put a spin on student of the week. Have each student record a video sharing why that student of the week is special. Students will enjoy watching video messages from their classmates sharing why they are a valued member of their classroom community.
12. Reboot your standard biography report. My friend Sean Fahey had the fabulous idea to use Nadine Gilkison's amazing Biography Inquiry HyperDoc to teach students all about biographies. Finally have students dress up as the person they are researching and record short presentation video.
13. Welcome back to school Flipgrid style. Have all staff record a welcome back message for your students at the beginning of the year. Ask a local (or national) celebrity to join in and give a shout out to your students.
14. Appreciation/Thank you card. After a field trip, on your admin's birthday or during Teacher or Classified Staff appreciation week have your class record their own video thank you cards.
15. Appsmash! OK, I'm kinda cheating here since this is really WAY more than one idea but it's just too good to leave out. I have had the opportunity to connect with an incredible educator and Flipgrid Ambassador, Jornea Erwin. In this episode of Flipgrid Unplugged Jornea shares SO many ideas for how to appsmash with Flipgrid to kick it up another notch. Once you have a few Flipgrids under your belt you REALLY need to check this out!

The opportunities to utilize this platform with your class are endless. The best way to get started? Try it out yourself! Share how YOU have used or will use Flipgrid with your students below!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Google Expeditions & HyperDocs. A Perfect Pairing.

A few weeks ago I had the honor of being a guest on the new Google Teacher Tribe Podcast hosted by Kasey Bell and Matt Miller. In the episode I shared a few of the exciting things we have going on at my school (Sun Terrace Elementary) with respect to integrating technology. I decided to share two big game changing tech tools that happen to pair perfectly with one another to create an exciting and truly engaging learning experience, HyperDocs and Google Expeditions.

HyperDocs, are "a transformative, interactive Google Doc replacing the worksheet method of delivering instruction, is the ultimate change agent in the blended learning With the HUGE community of educators sharing resources all the time there are tons to choose from to edit and share with your class. Just go to "file" then "make a copy" and an editable copy is saved to your Google Drive. Check out lots more information and resources I shared in a previous blog post HyperDocs! Need I Say More?  and at

Google Expeditions are virtual field trips that take students to places like outer space, national parks, museums, underwater and even back in time! They link virtual reality with engaging background information to guide students on a memorable visit to places they may never be able to see physically. There are tons of expeditions available and they are adding more all the time. New to Google Expeditions? Check out this smore flyer all about using Expeditions with any class even if you DON'T have a VR viewer!

Now put them together for an eduawesome adventure in learning! Here are some HyperDocs & Expeditions pairings. Have others? Please share them in the to this crowdsourced spreadsheet.

Maybe you have found a really great Expedition but can't find a HyperDoc to go with it. Well never fear, a Google Expeditions HyperDoc template is here! Use this HyperDoc template (complete with an Explorer playlist) to guide your students as you explore amazing places all over the world and beyond!

Google Expeditions HyperDoc Template
Have other ideas or resources for making the most of Google Expeditions with your students? Please share them in the comments below!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Is It Meaningful? Is It Manageable? Reflections & Takeaways from the 2nd Annual MDUSD & East Bay CUE STEM & EdTech Symposium

The annual Mount Diablo Unified School District & East Bay CUE STEM and EdTech Symposium, sponsored by Tesoro is the brainchild of awesome Shauna Hawes who has put on an incredible event two years in a row. Shauna was deservingly our 2016-2017 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year, finalist for the 2017 California teacher of the year and most importantly a very valued colleague and wonderful friend. She works tirelessly to put on this event that makes us ALL #MDUSDProud. Shauna says that her job is to find her students' bests and help shape their visions of what their own bests can be. What she doesn't realize is that she does this for her colleagues as well.

The second annual event was a Saturday in February filled with wonderful sessions led and attended by fabulous educators around the East Bay and even from afar. The day began with a Keynote by a wonderful friend of mine, Nick Zefeldt, who spoke about his journey as an educator and how he guides others as they integrate technology into their classroom. Nick and I have known each other for awhile now and was my first call when I became a Teacher On Special Assignment. His guidance and support has been invaluable as I have muddled my way through supporting teachers with educational technology. His advice to keep two questions in mind when choosing what tools or strategies to use with your class resonated with the audience. He encouraged all of us to ask ourselves. Is it meaningful? Is it manageable?

My first presentation was with an awesome, and super funny, colleague of mine, Mark Tobin. I learned SO much from working with him and planning our session. He encouraged us all to get our students asking the questions and for us teachers to get out of the way. Mark modeled how he does this by using Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Math with his students through Google Slides and Robert Kaplinski’s problem solving framework. He also created a digital breakout that we used as a fun way to begin and for teachers to understand how important it is for our students to experience productive struggle. Mark’s advice is simple, teachers need to talk less and students need to do more. His goal is that when teachers come in to observe his class they don't see him teach, they watch his students learn.

For the second session of the day I had the pleasure of presenting with THE Joe Young to a group of amazing educators on Google Expeditions and we had so much fun. The question of how to really use this technology in your class and whether or not this was just a "gimmick" came up in the beginning of our session. This was a great question and led us to a valuable conversation about beginning with what you want your students to learn and discover then find an engaging way to bring it to them. We took them on some exciting virtual field trips, shared resources and brainstormed ideas on how to use this technology in a meaningful and manageable way. Joe is such an inspiration to me and to so many others. I feel honored to have been able to present with him and hope to do so again. He wrote an amazing reflection blog post that captures the day and our session perfectly!

The final session of the day was a presentation with my pal Chrissie Cattalini on using Green Screen in the classroom. This was the second time Chrissie and I have presented this session together and as usual I was in awe of her ability to bring creativity and fun into her classroom while still keeping the rigor high and addressing the standards. Chrissie is a fabulous educator and wonderful friend and I am very lucky to work with her on so many of our passion projects. On Saturday we had a small but mighty group of brilliant educators who created some fantastic images and videos using Green Screen. This session was very hands-on and just like we should often do with our students Chrissie encouraged the attendees to just play. They learned through exploring the app and came up with great ideas for using this technology in their classrooms.

A HUGE highlight of the day was rolling out our STEM Lending Library! The tools available for checkout were on display all throughout the day and educators and students got a chance to try them out. The idea for the MDUSD STEM Lending Library came from the CUE Rockstar STEAMPunk Mobile Lab. Craig Yen had the idea to bring it Mount Diablo Unified School District. After the first STEM and EdTech Symposium in 2016, Tesoro allowed MDUSD to use the remaining funds to establish the STEM Lending Library of products that teachers would have seen at the Symposium, but needed to use and practice using in the classroom before finding the funding to purchase for themselves. In the spring of 2016 Shauna Hawes, Craig Yen and I came together along with Jonathan Eagan to put together a list of tools to purchase for the library. Since then the Valley View MOUSE Squad (led by Shauna Hawes) has been working hard to create the website and check out system for teachers and administrators to get materials and return them. The Library has tech tools like Dash, MakeyMakey, Raspberry Pi, Drones, VR Headsets, 3D Printers and more for ANY educator in the Mount Diablo Unified School District to check out for two weeks at a time and use in their classroom or with their staff.  It was so exciting to see the STEM Lending Library be fully rolled out successfully a year later!

It was a wonderful day and once again made me incredibly proud of my district and the amazing learning community we have created. There were tons of highlights are resources shared throughout the day. Check out the storify of tweets and the padlet of shared resources from #STEM17 below.

Made with Padlet

Friday, January 27, 2017

Student Guest Post! 8 Reasons Why Kids (and Adults) Should Blog.

In October I was introduced to the blog Glass Half Empty written by Miles, a 10 year old blogger from the San Francisco Bay Area. I have known Miles for a few years now and after reading a few posts I was immediately hooked. Not only is his blog laugh out loud funny but it also gives readers a VERY honest view of the world from his perspective. Check out his posts on Writer's Block, School and his awesome advice column called "Dear Danger" (Danger is quite literally his middle name). I asked him to write a guest post and here is his take on why he thinks kids (and adults) should blog.

Hi I am Miles. I am 10 years old and have a blog called Glass Half Empty. I am the only kid I know who blogs and I think it is a shame that no one else my age blogs because it is a great way to express yourself in lots of ways. Have you ever had a time where you feel like you are on the verge of going ballistic or like the whole world is against you? Well, I know that I have felt like that. I tried tons of ways to relieve my stress; I tried sports, I tried TV, I tried eating, I tried cooking, I tried lifting weights, I even tried eating junk food (but I got busted by mom) and nothing worked until I started blogging. Blogging is great for kids my age and adults!

Here are some reasons people of all ages and gender should blog.

1. It improves typing and vocabulary skills.

2. It is a great source of stress relief.

3. It makes a darn good hobby.

4. It is a great way to express your feelings.

5. There are no rules to blogging.

6. It is fun.

7. I can tell you firsthand there is no feeling like when you break your view record, get a subscriber or get a comment.*

8. Do you have any idea how accomplished I feel to have over 1000 views and to have gotten invited to guest blog?  Thank you Karly!

So get out there and  
*Bloggers love getting new subscribers and reading their comments. Miles is no different so be sure to subscribe to Miles' blog and don't miss any of his new posts!