Innovative class participation and thinkingby Kendall Strickler, Lower School
I was a shy kid growing up. I didn't like to raise my hand in school very often. I usually knew the answer, but I just did not like speaking up in class. My report cards always reflected a poor grade in "class participation" and comments from teachers always lamented the fact that I didn't speak up more. It annoyed me that introverted kids like me were judged that way. Back then, kids who raised their hand the most were considered the smartest. Students like me were rarely heard on so many levels. Fast forward to today. I am wrapping up my 15th year as a third grade teacher. I often reflect on my experiences as a student when thinking of ways for my students to show their thinking. "Class participation" looks so different now.
In the fall, I added something new to my language arts curriculum by joining the Global Read Aloud. This is an initiative where classrooms all over the world connect through the experience of a shared text. Some of the tech tools used to connect globally were Padlet, Flipdrid, and SeeSaw. I let my students explore all three of them and Flipgrid became an instant favorite. It gave everyone a chance to participate because everybody had a chance to respond to the prompts. Students who didn't like speaking in front of the class only had to speak to their iPad. Students loved making their own videos and in turn, watching their classmate's videos. What they really loved was connecting with students around the world about A Boy Called Bat, by Elena Arnold via Flipgrid.
Using the Global Read Aloud experience as the launch pad, I incorporated Flipgrid into other areas of our curriculum. I loved Flipgrid, too. I saw thinking from kids that I hadn't seen before using pencil and paper. I have a student with dyslexia. She is a deep thinker and often understands the subtle, more complex messages and themes of a text but writing is a challenge for her. It is hard for her to show what she knows on paper. But, put her in front of her iPad with Flipgrid to let her use her voice and she will blow you away with her thinking. I have another student who has been in OT (occupational therapy) for years because the physical act of writing is challenging for him. It takes him ten minutes to write one sentence, and that one sentence is hard to read. Put him in front of his iPad and wow - the ideas and text interpretations he shares are amazing. I get to see a side of my students that I wouldn't normally be able to in a traditional classroom
My goal as a teacher is to come up with as many ways for students to show what they know. Flipgrid has now been added to the mix. As educators, we need to change the landscape so that all learners have an opportunity to shine. Not just the ones who raise their hands.
Kids who feel heard feel valued. Kids who feel valued love school. Kids who love school grow up to be life-long learners.