Smashing Apps & Flipping the Script with Video


  “Ultimately, flipped learning is not about flipping the ‘when and where’ instruction is delivered; it’s about flipping the attention away from the teacher and toward the learner.”

– Brian Bennett 

Flip the Switch and Flip the Script

I recently participated in a World Read Aloud lead by with the assistance of 28 other teachers.  Sean tweeted out the link to a Google Slide where teachers could each read a page of the story and then record themselves reading their page on Flipgrid. I’ve always been keen to jump aboard global collaboration projects and I’ve to learn more about Flipgrid for a long time, so I decided to give it a go. After a bit of rehearsal, I recorded my first Flipgrid video. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to use. Also, it felt great to take part in such a cool experience with so many other educators. By the time the story was finished, there were 30 teachers covering 6 continents & 224,355 km pg to pg! Have a look and listen below!

This experience not only provided me with #FlipgridFever but also inspired me to think up different ways that I could use the app or a combination of multiple apps in my Kindergarten classroom. I want to make the learning age appropriate and provide them with an authentic audience. It was then when I realized that Flipgrid might be useful for our guided reading groups. Being that I teach Kindergarten I knew that combination of something new with something familiar would have to first be scaffolded.   I’ll start small and make it relatable to the guided reading routine they already know.  In similar fashion to how I took part in the World Read Aloud, each one of my students will read and record a page of their guided reading book. The story in its entirety will be uploaded to Flipgrid and saved in a video format. At first, we’ll begin by using the reading groups within our class. Then we will expand outward and merge with the other Kindergarten classroom.

I’ve already discussed this plan with my colleague. Our collective plan is to organize the leveled reading groups from both classes to encourage cross-classroom collaboration and increase the number of recorded e-books.  Once finished, the video can then be uploaded to Book Creator where students can collectively create and add images from the story. Eventually, the students can save and upload their final product to SeeSaw.  This Book Creator +SeeSaw  will provide my students with a wide authentic audience and allow them to work together and with students from another class. They will also be using their digital skills acquired throughout the year to navigate communication and creation apps such as Book Creator and SeeSaw.  Once uploaded to their SeeSaw journals the students can seek feedback from family members and seek to reflect on and refine their work.

Reflecting upon Reflecting

As an Early Years teacher,  I need to be flexible, responsive. reflective, and adaptable. This mantra is simply the nature of Kindergarten. Using student reflections to guide my classroom teaching and lesson planning has always been a massive cornerstone of my educational philosophy.  Now, with the likes of SeeSaw, Flipgird and Book Creator, I’m able to provide my students with the proper tools to do the same thing with their learning that I’m currently doing in Coetail with mine. Having a blog to look back on has been a wonderful reflection tool for me, it’s allowed me the possibility to create, reflect, refine and my communication skills. It’s also allowed me to experience and work through ideas that may not have ever come to fruition if it weren’t for the feedback and influence of others.  So, having said that, I’d like to have some form of archived media that will allow my students to generate the same benefits.  The select media that I believe would be the most effective, given the age of my students,  is video.

For all students, the power of video, specifically when used in combination of digital tools such as SeeSaw and now Flipgrid will allow them to reflect on how far they have come on their individual learning journey. In this specific case it Kindergarten student’s reading journey.  The use of video and the ability to record, rewatch a and share these videos also provide them with the authentic audience, this being both their peers and parents. The ability to give and receive feedback on SeeSaw has been an ongoing process that we have been establishing all year in my classroom. The parents are really buying into it and in turn, it’s motivating my students thus creating the perfect feedback loop for everyone involved.   

These specific book recordings provide students with a powerful learning opportunity to showcase growth as well as provide objective evidence for everyone to reflect upon. Looking at my own practice, my professional blog has been a very powerful tool and an evolving reflective learning journal that has helped me grow as an educator. Like my students, when they look back on their SeeSaw learning journals, I’m able to do the same with my Coetail experience.  I’m able to see how my ideas, writings, and communication skills have evolved from my initial blog post to now. I too participate in that same feedback loop, as my students and parents do.  Thanks to other members of this cohort and anyone else who comes across this blog on social media, I’m able to reach an authentic audience and receive authentic and meaningful feedback.  That same feedback loop has encouraged and inspired me to try to new things, take risks, and remix ideas or concepts so that they can fit into my Kindergarten classroom, like what I did after getting inspired by the @worldreadalouds idea.

Kinder Created Content Libraries

Once merged with our guided reading program, the videos take on a whole new level of importance. They can be shared, saved, and reviewed as we begin to create classroom e-book library.  As the students move up to different reading levels they will be placed in a different group and can record another story within their new group. This will also provide parents with evidence of their oral language, reading fluency, and comprehension skills. It will also serve as a digital learning database showcasing student grow and persevering individual content knowledge that can be used to help other students of varying reading levels. 

After some scaffolding and practice of blending together our tech and literacy skills, I can begin to embed the use of videos into other daily aspects of our curriculum. I know that a full on flipped classroom approach would not work for me due to the age level of my students, however, perhaps a partial flip or somersault classroom would. My main goal is to create student-made content libraries that extend beyond a single discipline. I’d like to include phonics and Math lessons and allow my students to help me co-create something similar to Khan Academy.  Keeping in mind the flipped philosophy and the age of my students I’ll need to modify it into something that meets the needs of my students and their situation. Here’s a video by Dan Spencer explaining the benefits of creating a digital content library for students.

First, I will start by creating a few phonics and math lessons of my own and record them on the iPad using Flipgrid. Following the same procedure as our guided reading recordings, over time, I will hand over that responsibility to my students. The end result will show not only collection of Kinder e-books read in their respective leveled groups but also the beginning foundation of other transdisciplinary learned content. 

A Personalized Classroom

As teachers, we’re now equipped with more tools than ever to help promote personalized learning.  A simple Google search can bring about a plethora of ideas and articles on how to transform your classroom.  For example, here’s access a Google doc with a massive collection of Flipped Classroom resources.  Beyond the catchy phrase, it’s important to note that a Flipped classroom is a mindset and not simply a method. With unlimited amounts of potential in this age of information, it’s vital that we as teachers remain willing to adapt and adopt that mindset by taking creative risks that continue to enhance and inspire learning. Salman Khan did this as he harnessed the potential of today’s digital tools and combined it with vision. The result shook up the entire education system and revolutionized student learning. It was years ago when I first encountered Salman Khan’s TED talk and I remember being inspired. It was weeks ago that I was inspired once again by Sean Ford’s @worldreadalouds idea.  I’ve come to believe that inspiration breeds innovation when coupled with the right resources and the right mindset.

Final Wonderings

What feedback in the form of thoughts, questions, or concerns do you have on the idea of me embarking on this venture?

What is the best use of classroom time?

What experience do you have with a flipped or blended classroom approach?



4 Replies to “Smashing Apps & Flipping the Script with Video”

  1. Isn’t Flipgrid amazing? I didn’t even realize there was a #flipgridfever hashtag which I could have used when I first began experimenting with it earlier this year! Your idea to use the same format your students know well helps to focus them on their reading fluency and learning basic app features. Also, love that idea of generating additional authentic audio books for your students and across classes. How cool! Currently I have some of my grade 3 students visiting grade 1 and Kindergarten classes to read on a weekly basis as they have set reading fluency as a regular goal. This week we had a conflict due to a baking experience planned at the same time as our regularly scheduled visits. After reading your post, on Thursdays I’m going to ask my students to record their book or poem using Flipgrid. We could use this recording for evaluation purposes or if scheduling conflicts occur, classes could still enjoy my students’ reading. Thanks for that idea! And next year we’ll go to using SeeSaw versus Easy Blog Junior as our eportfolio platform so happy to know those two apps “play nicely” together.

    Nicholas you asked for some feedback regarding your idea to begin flipping your classroom. I think your idea to start small is smart. I think modeling for the students the important components is helpful as well. I’m unsure of your curriculum but think topics that lend themselves more easily toward early years learners such as sharing their researching from a unit of inquiry (be it about animals or creating a how to use an app video) may be small steps toward trying it with students. This lends toward their natural curiosity and also with a how-to an easy way for them to receive feedback if their steps are successful for others to follow. Also, I wonder if you could plan collaboratively with the colleague you mentioned earlier. This could be helpful in thinking through some of the early learning aspects of flipped learning. I found thig link to Kool Kinders blog where a Kindergarten teacher shares her journey of beginning to flip her classroom. I thought it could provide you with some assistance. Since you use Seesaw, this webinar by Jonna McGaughy I found helpful with practical flipped classroom ideas. It might give you some ideas too. Flipping kindergarten classroom could be a really exciting Course 5 project!

  2. I think there is no doubt that technology can play a part in the classroom but I think based on the studies that a blended approach is required. Pupils in a chinese study saw that those who wrote notes on paper did better than those who just used technology apps only.

  3. Hi Nicholas,

    Excellent post, full of great examples and resources!

    I too have been intrigued by Flipgrid, and its potential for the classroom, however, I have yet to take the dive myself and try it out. I’m glad that the first use of Flipgrid was a positive one for you, and it sounds like you have a great plan in place for continuing to use it. I would be interested to learn more about how it turns out.

    I also really like your plan for integrating the model that you yourself utilize for professional learning into your classroom for your students. I have worked with primary EAL educators who used used a similar technique, but with audio only. (Students would read passages aloud, and by the end of the year, have a collection of audio files that would showcase their progress as readers/speakers throughout the year.) Students – and parents – loved it. I would predict that this would also be an excellent way to allow students to engage in meaningful reflection, and help them build the good habit of reflecting on their learning.

    I love the last section of your post, and this is a topic that I was having a conversation with a colleague about just earlier today – the personalized classroom. I wholly agree with your statement: “As teachers, we’re now equipped with more tools than ever to help promote personalized learning.” This is an exciting time to be an educator, because the possibilities to create new, profound, and deep learning experiences are growing at an accelerating rate each year, thanks to advances in digital communications technology. We seem to be only limited by our own resources (time, energy, other commitments, etc.) and our creativity.

    In this TEDx Talk, Katherine Prince lays out a vision of possibility for the future of education, highlighting the possibilities of a truly personalized learning journey for each student. As she points out: “It shouldn’t have to be that we’re all there learning the same thing on the same day because we’re a certain age.” She also outlines a number of challenges that education will face in ensuring that access to personalized learning paths is equitable for all students, not simply for those whose families can afford personalized learning opportunities. I found this to be a very interesting talk.

    Always a pleasure to read your posts! Looking forward to more.


  4. Hi Nick, there are so many things I love about this post and your app smash idea for guided reading. I am also getting hooked by FlipGrid fever and have been thinking of ideas for how to use it with my elementary students in the library. My first small endeavor into using it will be for students to comment and post about favorite books. While students have always been able to write book reviews or comments about favorite books in our library catalog this has left out younger students who are not yet reading and writing independently. What I love about FlipGrid and your project idea is that it gives voice to younger students when it comes to the topic of books and reading. Sure reading journals are common among older students, but what about the littles? Your idea also creates a community around reading and literature which is so important to develop at a young age. Students can use FlipGrid to begin to have conversations about stories and books and share with other students. I also love how you plan to use FlipGrid for reflection and feedback, again giving voice to students who may not have been able to do so before as most are not independently writing.

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