Building Classroom Community with Flipgrid

One of the reasons I love teaching is the community that is built, year after year, with the wonderful little humans in my classroom.

For an entire nine months, from August to May, we start as strangers, build wonderful memories and inside jokes, and end the year transformed. We are a class and we are all better for having been together that year.

So, I think it comes as no surprise when I say that I am missing my little classroom community so much. 

I miss their funny stories, their jokes, the way I could joke with them, and mostly their distinct and fascinating personalities. Teaching in elementary school is a wonderful thing-- I feel I still get to see the kids for who they really are, before society, peer pressure, and the world tells them to do things differently.

But, here we are in Distance/Home/Online Learning with no end in sight and I knew that, before content or any sort of teaching, I wanted to set up my classroom like I do in real life: Community First.

In these first few weeks, I have found a fun way to bring it back and that's with Flipgrid.


Prior to this time, I had never heard of Flipgrid and, when I looked through it, I was amazed and saw so much potential for academic learning.

All things considered, though, I put those ideas aside and began to think how I could authentically engage the students in my class to be themselves, share with others, and cheer each other on.

The answer came in using topics that involved zero academics at all, but just sharing themselves!

So, about twice a week, I will post a new Flipgrid assignment that is centered around sharing and has quickly turned into the highlight of my week.

I won't be describing how to sign up or set up Flipgrid, as there are already a full amount of AMAZING tutorials out there to get you started, but I will be sharing the topic ideas that have really worked for us these past few weeks.

Full disclosure: I entered Flipgrid without enough pre-teaching on Week 1 of Online Learning and it bombed.... big time. I won't get into the details, but it derailed quickly and it was because I had not set up any expectations, just invited kids to "experiment" and "play around"... What was I thinking?!

So, please do better than I did and get started with a video of your own explaining what you expect and why. {facepalm}

There is also the option to moderate videos before publishing them, so that could be a way to get started if this is new for your students and you're a bit hesitant to take this on.

But, I promise it's worth it once they know the rules, expectations, and you make reference to their videos in your class meeting time and reply to their videos posted. They know I'm in there and it's a fantastic way to be together and stay connected.

Flipgrid Rules & Expectations

In our class, each student is allowed to create ONE video to answer the prompt. I give them 90 seconds of recording time and they are allowed to edit their video clips to get a combined video of 90 seconds, but they need to keep it within that time limit. 

I have found this forces their creativity more and makes them really think and prioritize what they share. And who couldn't use more practice with that?

Next, I have them respond to two or more videos left my other students in our class with a positive comment. 

I emphasize positive because I reminded students they are all taking a risk and putting themselves out there. We are not judging, nor are we "joking" because sarcasm rarely translates in the online world and it certainly is not what we need more of at this particular time in the world.

There is one caveat to their first video reply: It needs to be on a video that has no replies yet. 

This idea came from my teammate and it was the perfect way to imbed inclusiveness and togetherness in a little, yet powerful way.

From there, they can reply to every single video they see, as long as it's with positivity and acknowledgement of that student, meaning they aren't making their video reply more about themselves.

I leave each Flipgrid up for about three to four days and link directly to it from our Google Classroom.


Flipgrid Birthdays

Now, the fun part.

We have used Flipgrid so much since my first stumble and the kids have rallied and created a beautiful platform for us to share and smile and be "together" even when we're apart.

One of the first topics I did was start to include classroom birthdays. We usually give a signed card and Birthday Circle (read more HERE), but turning it over to Flipgrid has been a great way to get a similar greeting.


Plus, my heart breaks for the kids who had to cancel parties and be stuck inside on their special day.

I will always send a link with their child's login to the parents so they can see the greetings, too, and it has been very well-received.

Honestly, if you use Flipgrid for nothing else, I highly recommend this route during our at-home teaching and learning time!


Flipgrid Ideas

Building on the success of that experience, I want to share some of the top Flipgrids I've assigned so far, along with ideas I have for the remainder of the year.

Pet Introductions

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved this topic. These kids were so adorable introducing their pets and the candid shots of their pets combined with the reply videos brought tears to my eyes.

And what's better than a lot of streaming animal footage? This whole project I rewatched several times because it just made me so happy.

Plus, I had one kiddo introduce a plant as his pet and kids were bringing up how much they loved it at our meeting that day. Boom! It was a moment we could all share a smile and be together. 


Build a Fort

We've been on a stay-at-home order for what feels like forever, especially to these kids, so this one was a welcome change to their inside surroundings. 

I even linked up a YouTube video on how to build a fort, just in case they needed additional inspiration. 

I've noticed after the tours, that many kids are still joining our Google Meetings in their forts. They also were so proud in their videos to show off the important things to them, and several of them invited their pets inside to read, so we got to see their familiar faces again.


Show-and-Tell

Since so many of them had special things in their forts, I wanted to dedicate a specific time to show off an item of significance to them, aside from their pet. 

I brainstormed ideas for them, but (as usual), was blown away by the touching items they chose to share with the class. 

And I was thrilled to see things I know would never have been allowed to be brought to school! 

It gave kids the chance to talk about themselves, their family members, and gave us all a glimpse into similarities we never knew we had with each other, in terms of experiences, likes, and even locations.


Get Outside

We live in Colorado, so the weather is 70* one day and snowing the next this time of year... and I wish I was exaggerating.

So, when I saw our nice days were ending and snow was on its way, I put together this one. Plus, it was midweek and I wanted my students to be out in the sun and away from the screen for a (long) while.

It was wonderful to see kids demonstrating tricks on their skateboards and trampolines, shooting baskets, showing us a golf swing, and I even had a student sing us a song. 

I'm definitely going to be sending them back outside for more assignments soon, once we're back above freezing next week!

Or maybe we can show off snow angels or snow forts??

Future Flipgrid Ideas

I have so many more ideas, since it seems new ones come up in current Flipgrids and I can't wait to get them out there to the kiddos!

Some upcoming topics include:
  • Crazy Hair Day
  • Show us baby pictures of themselves
  • Telling us (and showing pics) of a relative they admire (I'm hoping to build off of the show-and-tell with this one)
  • 5-4-3-2-1 Friday Check-In (5 things that made them smile that week, 4 words to describe the week, 3 things they plan on doing this weekend, 2 things they learned, and 1 goal the have for next week)
  • New Language (sharing words and/or phrases they know/learned in another language)
  • 3 Emoji Booktalk (using emojis from emojipedia.com to describe a recent book they finished)
  • Sharing artwork they've created 
  • Something they cooked/baked with their family
More ideas will come from these, I am sure.

Do you have experience with Flipgrid? Any recommendations or tips? 

And if you're braving Flipgrid for the first time, good luck and enjoy. It has been a community-saver for us during this time and really filled my heart with much-needed student joy.

Happy teaching and keep doing what you're doing! Your students are so lucky to have you :)



4 comments

  1. Thank you so much! I love all these ideas and great advice! I o appreciate you sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Christina! I am so glad they can help. Best of luck with your students this week :)

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  2. Hello, We would like to use this with our Grade 6 students however there is a 13 year old age restriction. How do you deal with that with your Grade 3s?

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  3. I couldn't agree with you more. I discovered Flipgrid during distance learning, and it has been a wonderful tool to keep our classroom community connected over the distance. However I also plan to use it in the classroom in the future - it has so much potential! One of my favorite topics was an "Always Be Creating" topic. The kids shared a variety of creative things they have been doing at home - baking, sewing, bubble making, crocheting, drawing, BMX tricks, etc.

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