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American Studies Students Become the Teacher During Black History Month & Women’s History Month

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American Studies Students Become the Teacher During Black History Month & Women’s History Month
Optimal Engagement and Learning with Asynchronous Research Presentation: 8th Grade American Studies Students Use Flipgrid to Teach Their Classmates About Individuals Who Have Changed History During Black History Month & Women’s History Month
by Stacey Roshan, Director of Innovation and Educational Technology
Optimal engagement & Learning with Asynchronous Research Presentation

This year has undoubtedly forced us to reexamine assignments and assessments, reimagine what collaboration and projects look like, and create new avenues for students to actively participate in all aspects of class, whether at home or in the classroom.

It has been a joy to see teachers creatively dream up new ways for students to present material. These are changes that will live on way beyond this school year. Whereas taking one or two days for class presentations was common in the past, teachers and students have seen the power of leveraging tech tools for asynchronous presentations. What’s more, in so many cases, we have seen interaction increase as students have an opportunity to choose how long to engage with each presentation. For projects that pique their interest, students might choose to do a deeper dive. With the shifted format, students now have a chance to explore at their own pace.

Dr. Vardi’s 8th Grade American Studies Class

In Dr. Vardi’s 8th grade American Studies class, students recently engaged in two research projects — the first to honor Black History month and the second to honor Women’s History month. These projects involved multiple elements, including learning to properly use and cite primary and secondary sources and presenting what they learned to their classmates in a creative and engaging way.

Black History Month Research Project

The first research project was done during Black History Month. The goal was for students to honor a Black American from the past by researching and reporting out on a Black American that made history.


To begin, students engaged in the research portion of the project. Using the databases Bullis makes available, students chose three individuals from three different time periods to learn about. After their initial research, students selected one individual to study further.

To capture their research, students were given specific prompts to answer. They needed to find secondary and primary source documents to support their answers. Students would learn how to document their sources in more detail in the next project.


The next step was for students to write out a script addressing the prompt: 

[Individual’s name] changed history by ___________.

To best tell a story, students were asked to find visuals to engage their classmates and showcase this person’s contributions to history in a concise, 3-minute video presentation.


Students used Flipgrid to record their presentations, integrating visual elements, text, tone, and telling a story to teach their classmates what they had learned (tutorial). 

After recording their presentation, it was time to learn from classmates. Students watched 5 other Flipgrid responses and then commented (using a combination of text and video comments, tutorial).

In this way, students had an opportunity to choose which projects most interested them and engage fully with the presentation their classmate had given. Before Flipgrid, it would take a minimum of one full class period for presentations and students wouldn’t have had the same chance to do a deeper dive into the topics or individuals that most interested them.


Women’s History Month Research Project

The second research project was done during Women’s History Month. The goal was for students to research and report out on an American woman that made history using valid sources, Noodletools and Flipgrid.


Students began by selecting 4 individuals — two from the 18th/19th century and two from the 20th century — to research. Dr. Vardi then assigned one individual to each student, ensuring that every student researched a different historical figure. 

Then, it was time to not only identify sources and research but this time, students had the added component of documenting sources using NoodleTools. Dr. Clouse-Radigan, Bullis librarian, provided direct instruction to students to teach them how to use NoodleTools properly. Sources needed to include:

  1. At least four secondary sources (biography, article, timeline)
  2. At least one primary source document (diary entry, letter, speech, interview)
  3. At least three visuals (to be integrated into the Flipgrid presentation)

Dr. Clouse-Radigan also created a customized Women’s History Month Libguide to guide students to the databases, websites, and resources they would need for this project.

To capture their research, students were again given specific prompts to answer. 


Students were tasked with telling a story of their selected individual’s contributions to history. They wrote out a script addressing the prompt: 

[Individual’s name] changed history by ___________.

This time, students would have 4-5 minutes to present on Flipgrid.


Students used Flipgrid to record their presentations, using at least 3 visuals they had found in their initial research. With these presentations, students again were asked to record and then listen to and comment on 6 of their classmates’ Flipgrid videos.



Stacey Roshan

Stacey Roshan is Director of Innovation & Educational Technology at Bullis School and author of Tech with Heart: Leveraging Technology to Empower Student Voice, Ease Anxiety, & Create Compassionate Classrooms. She is passionate about bringing innovative tools into the classroom to create a safe learning environment for all students to find their voice and build confidence. Her work has been featured in USA Today, The Washington Post, CNN, and PBS Newshour. She has also been named Teacher of the Future by NAIS. In addition to teaching high school students to love and understand math, Stacey works closely with faculty to design tech-infused lessons aimed at providing the optimal learning environment for all students.