GaETC 2017 Highlight #1: Flipgrid

The 2017 Georgia Educational Technology Conference was packed full of new tools and exciting strategies that everyone is eager to try out with their students and teachers. We are going to share a few highlights from the conference with you in case you weren’t able to attend or if you attended different sessions. We hope you find something new you can use to engage your students!

flipgridThe first tool we are sharing is a website called Flipgrid: “Flipgrid is the leading video discussion platform used by millions of PreK to PhD educators, students, families, and organizations in more than 150 countries! Create a Grid (that’s your classroom or group), add Topics to spark the discussion, and your community builds a dialogue as they share short video responses. Super simple. Super powerful. Endless uses.”

Flipgrid is a free website that you can use to facilitate discussions and conversations among all your students. With the free account, you can set up one grid, which is the equivalent of a class.  Within your grid, you can create unlimited topics for students to discuss. Students will then record a video of themselves answering the question you posed. In the free account, teachers choose to restrict the video length to either 15 seconds or 90 seconds. Students love adding drawings or stickers to their videos before posting them! My favorite part is that your grid can be embedded in your eCLASS page.

Teachers are using Flipgrid across all subject areas.  computer Students are sharing book reviews, reflecting on their learning throughout a unit, explaining their math thinking, and collaborating with students from other schools. Videos that students post become formative assessments to help guide instruction the next day. Foreign language teachers are using Flipgrid as a tool for their students to practice speaking while music teachers are asking students to record themselves playing a piece of music. Need help with ideas of how to use Flipgrid? Check out their website for links to blog posts with suggested ideas.

Did you discover other ideas while you were at GaETC? Share them on our Padlet!

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Leadership Lean-In November

Written by Dot Schoeller, eCLASS Mentor

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As the instructional leader in your building, you may have been looking at your eCLASS usage and wondering where to begin. As I faced the exact same dilemma, I recognized that I was not an eCLASS user and did not truly understand the power of the tool and how it can transform classroom instruction to increase student achievement. Three strategies I used in order to get my school started down the path of transformational teaching with technology are briefly described in this article.

First, to begin the journey, I did not want to add any more work to my teachers’ already full plate. We began by examining the AKS they were already planning to teach along with the technology they were incorporating, and plotted it on the TIM matrix during their collaborative planning session with the help of our LSTC. During the next session, each grade level looked at the chart to see what other grade levels were doing and then collaboratively discussed how to improve one lesson on their grade level. By starting with one lesson at a time, teachers were able to string together several lessons over the course of a semester until they were consistently creating lessons that were much more transformational at the end of the year than they were at the beginning of the year. We began the second year with a blank chart and teachers decided in August what lessons they were committed to transform in the first semester.

Secondly, during the January staff development day, we did a “Teacher Carousel” that was facilitated by the LSTC and one lead innovator from each grade level. These teachers and the LSTC planned a 20 minute grade-level showcase intended to highlight tools the grade level was using with students to increase student engagement and help teachers with differentiation. The LSTC ensured that each grade level showcased different tools so we didn’t have 6 sessions of “Kahoot! “ Each grade level started in their own rooms and then rotated until they visited all six elementary grade levels. At the end they debriefed together about tools and strategies they learned and how they could implement them during the next semester. This was one of the most effective staff developments we ever had and really moved our school forward. The teachers not only loved learning from each other, but it also supported the evaluation system with teachers wanting to “lead and guide others” in order to be exemplary on their evaluations.

Lastly, during this entire process, I used the personal motto, “Feed the race horses.”  Basically, using this philosophy means that whenever I had extra money to purchase additional technology or send someone to a conference, I would go after those lead innovators who are “pulling the wagon” for the school and helping transform lessons.  The overall result of feeding the race horses was that not only did they continue to improve in their instructional and leadership roles, but also their colleagues began to witness the powerful effects of their work and re-examined and retooled their own practices.

Looking at integrating technology can be a daunting task. But just taking a first step will help move your school along. Begin with those who are willing and ask them to bring along one more person. Soon you will be multiplying leaders in your building. Start small with one lesson. If you can string together lots of lessons, you will transform a classroom. If you can string along lots of classrooms, you can transform your entire school.