One of my biggest goals in teaching my section of Online AP Calculus this year has been finding ways to continue to hear my students “talk.” I want to hear how they are thinking through the process of solving problems. One of the things I value most about being a teacher is having the opportunity to enjoy each student’s personality and to get to know each student as an individual (and for them to feel this same connection with me). You may have already read my post on Student-Led Google Hangouts, Recorded with YouTube Live, in my Online AP Calculus AB Course, where I talk about how I require students to record synchronous, small group discussions with their classmates. When I play back this recording, I get to hear my students work through problems as they help one another, and I get to view their interactions with classmates. Seeing them chat about math, casually in this manner, has been a huge part of why I feel connected with my online students.
For a while now, I have had students create some video responses to math questions in my AP Calculus class (see here & here if you’re interested in reading more). These assignments tended to be rather formal in nature. The goal was that students would create a screencast solving a problem they had been assigned, and then I would post all of these video solutions for the class to learn from. Before students recorded, they would get their answer checked by me so that I could make sure that there weren’t errors being presented in the videos. I think this is a very valuable assignment, and not one that I want to get rid of – there is huge value in students teaching one another – but this type of activity takes a while and is hard to build in as a weekly activity.
This is where Flipgrid comes in. I have just begun using Flipgrid in my Online AP Calculus course. I discovered that the phone app is a great way to do an informal math solution. With the Flipgrid App, you can use both the front-facing and rear-facing camera when creating a recording. What I asked my students to do was this:
- Pick a question that you found challenging in Chapter 7 but that you feel you now understand
- On a piece of paper, carefully and precisely write out:
- the question
- your solution to the problem
- On your phone, open the Flipgrid App
- In the Flipgrid App, enter code: 115ed5, which will take you to the “Differential Equations: Ch 7 Videos” topic
- Hit “+ Add your response” at the bottom of the screen to add your video response
- You will have 90 seconds to record your response (if necessary, you can submit two videos). Please alternate between using your front camera to record your lovely face and the back camera to record your handwritten work, as in my example.
- Press the record button to begin recording
- Press the pause button when you are ready to switch your camera view
- Press the record button to resume your recording
- Press next when you are done recording & review your response
- For your thumbnail, use a picture of just your face or a snapshot of your solution
My goal in doing this activity was not to have students teach one another. But rather, I wanted to hear how students were analyzing each step of the problem they were solving. I wanted to hear the approach rather than just see them write a series of steps in their solution. I think this activity helps students solidify their understanding because they are forced to justify each step of the problem. And, from the teacher perspective, it really gives me insight into how deeply each student is making the necessary connections.
What I loved so much about using Flipgrid is just how easy it was to do this assignment. Students simply needed the technology they all had in their pockets – a smartphone. There were no fancy tablets or downloads necessary. Open the app and press record! And for me, I don’t need to upload any recordings or share individual projects on a class page. Within the grid I set up, students can view all of their classmates’ videos.
I definitely look forward to using Flipgrid with my students on a regular basis for the remainder of this year. For me, the main goal is to build collaboration/community, help students verbalize their math process, and for me to get to see and hear from my online students! I love how easy Flipgrid makes it for me to accomplish these goals.
Nothing about this exercise is ‘perfect’ or ‘polished’. But remember, my goal was not about that at all. My goal was to hear my students think through problems and force them to verbalize their thought process. And to hear a bit of each student’s personality in the process :) This assignment was such an easy way to achieve this.
One thing that I want to try next is having one student create a video solution and then having 4-5 other students comment on that solution through Flipgrid. This way, students can build off of one another in forming deeper understandings and better answers. I know that as I continue to use Flipgrid with students, I will think up more ideas, and I look forward to sharing those as I stumble upon them!
If you’re interested in seeing a sample student response, you can find one here.
If you’re interested in doing a similar activity with your students using Flipgrid, I’ve added a topic to the Discovery Library to help make setting things up easier: