Turn Your Classroom into a Community
The following is a resource for Flipgrid’s global educator community written by EdLead Fely Garcia Lopez.
When we had our first #FlipgridForAll Community Conversation en español, we all agreed that transforming classrooms into communities provides opportunities for our students to learn from us and from each other. Every member of a learning community has an equal voice, and everyone has something to share.
To turn classrooms into communities, you need to create a safe learning space where students feel appreciated for who they are, valued for where they come from, and accepted for what they can contribute.
Here are a few strategies to help you on your journey:
Create a sense of belonging
If students are shy about participating or nervous about contributing, there is a valid reason why. Sometimes, it’s when students genuinely don’t know the answer; sometimes, it’s the fear of being wrong.
- eTwinz Mario and Alberto Herraez, Spanish educators now teaching in Utah, believe the first step to increasing participation is finding out why students are hesitant. They recommend using topic moderation and/or Mic Only Mode to help students feel more at ease when sharing their voice.
- EdTech specialist Manny Curiel says it’s important to show vulnerability, and this is especially helpful for students whose first language isn’t English.
- For English learners, or ELs, it’s critical that teachers model expectations. Rosa Liarte, a history teacher from Málaga, Spain, encourages mistakes when first recording yourself in Flipgrid. It's ok to make mistakes together!
- Angels Soriano, also from Spain, likes “tres, dos, uno”-- or 3-2-1. In this activity, her students share three things they like to do, two goals or objectives for the school year/semester, and one place in which they feel good.
- The eTwinz OffTopic discussion prompt, aimed at students who are not yet comfortable participating in academic discussions, gets similar results. In this OffTopic, students share a video about anything they feel comfortable talking about.
To build a diverse learning community, it’s important to celebrate the richness of backgrounds and the diverse voices and cultures of every student.
- Alberto Valdes, an ICT coach in Monterrey, Mexico, recommends teachers design activities that allow students to share their backgrounds, stories, and customs.
- Gloria Enrique, a Spanish teacher living in Ireland, suggests that through Flipgrid videos, students can learn from each other by finding similarities and differences between cultures, customs, and celebrations.
Above all: Listen to your students
Miss Soriano in Spain says the most effective way to transform the classroom is by listening to the students and their needs. What can they do independently? What do they need guidance with? She also recommends you challenge your students but provide support so they aren’t afraid to make mistakes.
While things might not necessarily go as planned, it’s important to adapt and learn together. Many times, our own students can provide us with answers to our questions, so we should never underestimate our students’ potential.
Just get started
In the simplest of terms, Manny says, “Get started and just do it!” You can always undo, so there is nothing to be worried about.
For support in building learning communities, the #FlipgridForAll community of educators is always willing to help and share.
There are more than 32,000 ready-made discussion topics in the Discovery Library, so you’re virtually guaranteed to find something that will meet your students’ needs. *Check out the Building Classroom Culture Collection for more ideas.*
And don’t forget the Grid Pals feature! When students connect with others from across the globe, classroom walls no longer constrain learning. Students share their stories and work on collaborative projects. Beyond academic concepts, this feature is a fun way for students to share their stories, values, and customs. Most important, it provides a platform to connect.
Learning is different now, so teaching has to be different, too. Change can be uncomfortable and scary, but our students deserve opportunities to share their voices, whether that’s in Spanish, English, or Spanglish.
Transforming your classroom or campus into a learning community provides a fun and creative way for learners to connect and interact, share, and learn. This learning community becomes a place where differences are celebrated, and students are appreciated and valued for who they are.