Connected Learners Problem Solve & Engage in Accountable Talk

By Jen Saarinen (@snej80)

  1. How often does every student share their thinking in your classroom?
  2. How frequently do you ask your students to connect with one another outside of class to talk about their learning?
  3. How often do you have the time to have every student share their interests beyond needing a grade.

Before I started using Flipgrid, I could tell you that my answer to all three was “never.” How could I possibly find the time to hear from every student, teach a new skill, discuss misconceptions and mistakes, and encourage practice of these math skills at home during a 90 minute block?

Recently, I had students choose a partner to have an asynchronous conversation with using Flipgrid. All students were responsible for completing a real-life multi-step percent change problem.

IMG_3531Each student explained their thinking using Flipgrid and then the fun began! Partners were tasked with replying to one another providing constructive feedback, ideally with math specific vocabulary. This alone led to students watching videos, sometimes outside of their partnerships, allowing them to self-edit and make a correction video if needed explaining their own mistakes.

The second part of the problem allowed for students to share their own thinking and reasoning by suggesting a more appropriate percent markup for the pair of shoes. It was here that I encouraged students to have their reply videos be a bit more like a debate with one another. Some students went above and beyond and got their parents involved in a reply!

In viewing student videos,  you can certainly get a feel for the discussions that are taking place in and out of the classroom. You can see that students are connecting with one another, even when they aren’t in a class with their friend. Shoe Sale

Screenshot 2018-03-14 at 12.13.32 PMIf you’re still reading you may be wondering how Flipgrid is allowing me to get to know more about students therefore creating more of a community and culture on team. Flipgrid added a short “Ideas” topic to the top of each grid that can be turned on or off by the grid owner. I had a feeling if I just left it on there, I wouldn’t have many students participate. After all, most would wonder to themselves or ask me, “What sort of idea am I supposed to have about math?” I decided to use “ideas” as an open discussion about a variety of topics that are relevant to their lives. Here are a few questions I’ve asked my students to share with each other in recent months.

  • Discuss a family member who’s changed your thinking about something.
  • Discuss a TV show that may change your future.
  • Reflect and share your High and Low for 2017.
  • Share with us a song that makes you smile.

At the beginning of February 2018, I attended LearnLaunch, where two students presented as part of the Learning Innovation Showcase. Check out this video to see how these students feel about being connected learners. I think it’s safe to say, “the proof is in the pudding.”



Jen Saarinen is a Math teacher at Kickemuit Middle School. You can follow her on twitter @snej80.



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