Bring Joy to Your Virtual Classroom with a Scope Debate and Flipgrid

By Lindsay Patton
May 21, 2020

Lindsay Patton teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grade ELA in Alachua, Florida.

Editor’s Note: Our "At Home Edition" Genius Teacher Ideas celebrate and honor the moments of joy, the triumphs, and the love of reading and learning that Scope teachers are nurturing in their virtual classrooms.

When our school switched to remote learning, I knew that Scope articles would be a great way to keep my students engaged and learning at home. Currently we are focusing on finding and using text evidence when answering questions or when constructing an argument. But my students were getting pretty tired of writing constructed responses each week. So I wanted to switch things up a bit and let them have some fun with it. Enter Flipgrid!

What Is Flipgrid?

For those of you who are not familiar with Flipgrid, it’s a website that allows teachers to create “grids”—message boards where teachers can post questions or assignments called “topics.” Students can then post video responses to the topic and reply to one another. If students are feeling shy, they can blur out their face, or choose not to appear at all. Grids can be shared with the entire class, small groups, or individual students.

The Plan

Every Monday morning, I assign everything for the entire week to my students. This week’s assignments were centered on the debate from the May issue of Scope, “Would You Implant a Phone in Your Brain?”

Over the course of the week, students were to do the following:  

  1. Preview the vocabulary from the debate.
  2. Read the debate.
  3. Use the Essay Kit to identify and evaluate the arguments on each side of the debate, and then take a stance. 
  4. Present their stance on Flipgrid using text evidence from the article to back it up, making sure to acknowledge the other side and provide a counterargument.
  5. Respectfully respond to at least two classmates, explaining why they agree or disagree with their classmates’ stances.

The Prep

I provided a few scaffolds to help my students be successful:

  • A “how to” video that walked them through all of the features on the Flipgrid platform (I created my own, but here’s one from Flipgrid.)
  • A set of classroom rules and expectations for using Flipgrid
  • A screencast in which I went over the instructions and expectations for the assignment
  • Debate sentence stems and models of different ways to respond

A screenshot of one student’s video

The Debate

I was really surprised that many of my students argued in favor of phone implants! I was impressed by the amount of time and thought that all of my students, regardless of the side they chose, put into this assignment. Some of them dressed up for the presentation—one even wore a suit and tie. A student who doesn’t have a webcam created a Minecraft video presentation using his character as the speaker and then edited in his own audio. Another student created an animated slideshow complete with music, visuals, and narration. This project certainly allowed students to be creative and express their opinions; even my incredibly shy students found ways to express themselves through this platform. I was also able to see that some students have mastered the argumentative concepts that we have been learning, even though it wasn’t always apparent in their writing. This was such a fabulous experience for all of us, and I plan to continue using Scope and Flipgrid together when we (hopefully!) return to our classroom in the fall.

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