BY JANET K. OUTLAW
Experiencing online education is a completely different experience from in-person teaching and learning. Simply transferring what you would normally do to an online platform doesn’t offer the same kind of experience. During this time of social distancing, I’ve been particularly interested in thinking about platforms that still allow teachers and students to engage in literacy in socially participative ways.
One platform that is really interesting for students to share out responses to children’s literature is Flipgrid. It is a great way for all children, or college students, to share their experiences, their learning, and reflections! As the teacher, you can add members of your class to Flipgrid and ask them to share out about what they’re reading at home. Since children have varying accesses to high-speed internet or media devices, I also like Flipgrid because it can be used on a tablet or mobile phone. It’s free to create an account and join. It offers wonderful learning opportunities, where each student can highlight an amazing new book they read, what they may have personally connected to in the story, or how they felt while reading it.
I’m not a technologically savvy person at all, but Flipgrid is very user-friendly. I first used it a couple of years ago in an online graduate course. It helped the course to feel more socially engaged than typical online courses. Watching classmates’ videos and hearing about their experiences brought the class to life in a way online discussion boards just don’t. If it’s your first time using Flipgrid, below is a brief tutorial video to show you how to set it up as an instructor.
Once you have gotten your account and topic set up, you can share it with your students for a variety of different discussions. One great idea would be for every student to give a book talk of a new children’s book they read at home!
As mentioned in an earlier blog post, there are several resources for free access to children’s books right now:
Some of my favorite texts that are available on Epic are A Different Pond (by Bao Phi, Illustrated by Thi Bui) and We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frané Lessac). A Different Pond touches on themes of immigration, loss from war, and family pride. We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga prompts you to think again about all of the people and things in your life you are grateful for.
These are just a couple of books you can recommend to your students or allow them the choice to read a book of interest to them! Using Flipgrid, you can have discussion question prompts to guide students through their book talk, such as:
Janet K. Outlaw is a member of the CLA student committee. She is a doctoral candidate in Literacy and English Language Arts at North Carolina State University.