Oral practice with Flipgrid

by Beata Mirecka-Jakubowska, IB English B, Jakarta Intercultural School, Indonesia

Flip your Orals with Flipgrid ... When students hear that 15% of their grade derives from Individual Oral assessment, they wonder – how long do I have to speak? How clearly? How eloquently? And most importantly, how do I practice for this task?

For about a decade all my English language classes, IB or non-IB, have used our intra-net website to upload short video clips, which I recorded myself with a clunky movie camera at first, then gave the task to the students who filmed with small „flip cameras” that our library purchased (they came with a USB plug to download video clips directly to the computer), and recently students have been using the laptop camera (our school is 1:1 laptops) or moved on to the smartphones that most carry in their pockets.

But the filming is not the most important part. The feedback is.

The videos sit in the intra-net website for two years, so students can view them, and most importantly,
read teacher feedback under the video, or comment on their peer videos as well. Powerful learning tool.

Yet not every school owns a large-enough server to provide such a storage service. What to do? Youtube? Hmmm…

Recently I discovered a wonderful online alternative. FLIPGRID.COM

[Click on the icon below to see the access details for FLIPGRID]

Link https://info.flipgrid.com/  provides more information on the free plan (1 grid, unlimited topics, up to 90 second videos) and the paid plan for educators (video length up to 5 minutes, unlimited grids and topics).

Flipgrid videos embed into many pages and portals, as the program works with most platforms.

What’s great about it?

The free plan allows you to set up one grid (like one classroom). Within that grid you then set up a topic, provide some guidance or link to prompt (photo or Youtube video, or Google doc), then set the length of the recording (from 30 seconds to 5 minutes) and the due date. The system generates a link with a code, and that’s it!

All you need to do is give the students the code OR the link to the topic, and off they go. They record their talk (using Flipgrid.com on their computers or by downloading the Flipgrid App from the App store), upload it providing their name, last name initial, and title.

If students provide an email address, YOU the teacher can write them text feedback which will be emailed to them directly.

The STUDENTS, on the other hand, can only respond with a video message or comment. You as teacher can of course provide feedback via video, too.

What are the benefits of these flipped Orals?

> The “fun part” of it (and believe me, seniors are the first to goof off ;) with stickers to decorate their selfies which serve as the “cover” for their videos perks up their interest.

> 30 second or 1 minute talks are pretty hard to pull off without “umm”s and “like”s, but students can practice several times. The video clip can be played back before submission, so if they’re dissatisfied, they can try again and again, until they are happy with their recording.

> Peer feedback is also exciting – 30 second or 1 minute videos with comments on content or delivery help improve their oral skills. The little circles at the bottom of each student’s “cover” indicate a peer response video.

> The video can be embedded into a blog with more written text and where written comments on the topic can be added by the peers
> The videos can be downloaded for comparison with a previously recorded one and kept in a folder collection.

And more educational benefits?

> Students are more inclined to practice their speaking skills when there’s a “fun” online aspect to it.

> Written feedback sent by the teacher directly to the student isn’t visible to others, so specific items for improvement can be listed, for example:

> The website generates a transcript of each video, the “main” one or the “reply” one. It’s not completely accurate (I tested it myself ;), but students can definitely see how clearly they’ve pronounced certain words – or not! This is also an easy way to grab a chunk of text with a misused expression and provide feedback on its use, for example:

In this case I copy-pasted the grabbed text in italics, highlighted the error (yellow) as well as the correct use (green) and provided feedback by email.

“Flipgrid” assignments can be set as homework (unlimited tries, which do take up class time when students want to do a super job) or can be used in the classroom as a quick “exit ticket,” but this can be pulled off time-efficiently only after they’ve all got the phone App and practiced, so they’re more comfortable and consume less time per task.

I think Flipgrid brings in another way of practicing for Oral Assessments, don’t you?

Flipgrid in action...

Here is the topic that was set for this presentation exercise:-

SOLD literary analysis #1

Pick a page or two from the novel SOLD by Patricia McCormick (from pages 7-54) and explain HOW the setting or characterization or theme impact the reader. Remember to mention the literary devices the author has used to convey her messages.

And here is Musashi's first attempt at the task...

Teacher’s comment on Try#1 was:

Great job, Musashi, keep up the effort. You noticed the "Foreshadowing" :) In addition, you could have focused on "lower my head and obey" in response to "no sense looking back" --> how ominous is that? Continue trying to improve the flow of your speech and to eliminate the hesitation. Strengthen the verbs :)

Then in class we also discussed how hesitation and nervousness impact the speech, and emphasized the need to focus more on quotations rather than just retelling the story plot.

So, Musashi tried again ...

In Try#2 with different pages analyzed, Musashi is calmer, sounds less nervous and speaks with more confidence. He is taking greater care to use active rather than passive verbs, and quotations help him connect the ideas from different chapters.

So, progress achieved - and evident both to the teacher and to the student ...

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