Updated July 2022
They’ve done it again! I first wrote about using Flipgrid in music classes in January 2018. Since that time, the tool has gone through several amazing updates and this most recent round is no exception. The biggest change is a new name: Flipgrid is now Flip! There’s a new name, a new logo, and some incredible updates coming to the platform. What hasn’t changed? Their commitment to student voice. Before I go further, here’s some background.
For those unfamiliar, Flip (formerly Flipgrid) is a video response platform used to amplify student voice. While it wasn’t originally intended for music classes – the founder, Charlie Miller, was using it to keep in touch with his PhD students while out of the country – many music teachers around the world have embraced this exceptional tool.
I used Flip for the first time during the summer of 2017 through an online PD program for book chats and discussions with teachers in the program. It was love at first sight! The first grid I created was not for school, but for my family reunion. Our family is spread out around the country and the last full reunion was twenty years prior. I created a grid and asked everyone to record a video before the reunion, telling the group where they lived and what they’ve been up to. It was amazing! My 88-year-old grandfather recorded a video, along with my 3-year-old nephew, a service dog (obviously both with help!) and everyone in between. It was so much fun watching the videos and even better, at the reunion, seeing people spark conversations based on what they had watched. Apparently, my grandfather still goes back to watch videos 🙂
The family reunion experience proved that Flip is a powerful tool. I’ve used it with both music students, music educators, and pre-service teachers. They all enjoy it!
On June 27th, Flip hosted their annual party, Flip Fest. Each year, educators are treated to an awesome event, showcasing the updates coming that year. This year was no exception. While I wasn’t able to attend Flip Fest in-person, the virtual event did not disappoint.
The first announcement was a big one, as I mentioned earlier – the name change! The tool we have known as “Flipgrid” for the last ten years is now “Flip!” New name, new look, but same amazing platform. They explained the changes reflect the innovation and creativity of the users, extending learning beyond the classroom. “Learning happens everywhere.”
One thing that was said over and over during Flip Fest – “you asked, we listened.” And that’s the truth! Every update, every change, every new feature was because educators asked for it. While I’ll go into detail about these updates in the next post, here are some highlights:
- A more simple web experience, so teachers can view and manage content easily
- Camera updates, including Create mode, new stickers, and new backgrounds
- Flip will soon be available in Spanish
- Flip Events – free events for anyone to watch both live and on-demand
Here are a few suggestions for how you can use Flip in instrumental music classes. Stick around until the end for some easy topics you can use in your classroom.
Sharing Musical Voices
Music is meant to be shared, and Flip is the perfect tool to make that happen! I will frequently use Flip as an informal way for students to share their music making. Encourage students to share videos playing their favorite songs, music surrounding a specific theme (we had a John Williams week) or just something goofy! Maybe you have student composers, or students who play secondary instruments like piano, guitar, or ukulele. Anything that gets students playing their instruments and sharing with others is a “win” in my book.
This was one of the first things I did with Flip, and it may be one of my favorites. The students create how-to videos based on a specific skill. At the beginning of the year, I had 5th-grade orchestra students work with partners (during class) to record bow hold tutorial videos. The 4th-grade band students created videos (at home) describing how to assemble and hold their instruments. The benefits to this: the students must have a solid understanding of the process to make an accurate video, and I get to see who understands and who needs more clarification. Not to mention, watching the students transform into “YouTube Stars” is quite entertaining!
There are many times where I will have students work with a partner or small group in class to practice a new skill. In the past, I would have a few groups share what they did with the full ensemble, but there was never enough time to hear from every group. By using Flip, groups can record a video of their work and share with the class this way. Students enjoying working with partners and being creative in their demonstration of learning.
Before you ask, “doesn’t it get loud?” The answer is yes, a little. But learning is messy. It might be loud and look a bit chaotic from the outside. Establish clear expectations and set realistic goals for the students. Offer support and redirection as needed. Then enjoy the magic that can happen when you step back and let go.
Flip is also a great tool for playing assessments and auditions. Most music teachers would love to hear students play assessments for them in person, but with time constraints, few of us have this luxury. With Flip, students can record at home, recording as many takes as necessary to get it right. Teachers can watch the videos when they have time and give students feedback using a rubric, written comments, or video. A couple of hints:
- Moderate all videos when using Flip for assessment or audition purposes. This means only the teacher(s) can view the video, it does not show up for everyone to see.
- Video feedback for playing assessments is extremely valuable! Students can hear you describe or demonstrate the proper way to play something.
- You can speed up the process by watching videos at a slightly faster speed. Click the gear in the bottom right corner to adjust the playback speed.
Consider using Flip for student portfolios! Encourage students to reflect on each video they submit, discussing why they included the piece, why they are proud of it, or other similar topics. This puts the creation of the portfolio in the student’s hands and encourages them to take ownership of the process.
To use Flip for student portfolios, you can either create a topic for each student or create a Mixtape.
If you create a separate topic for each student, they can add videos to their topic throughout the school year or over several school years! You can use the “Duplicate Topic” feature to make the creation process faster.
You could also create a Mixtape for each student compiled of all their video submissions from the year. The benefit of a Mixtape is that you can share it with anyone, such as the students’ family or a scholarship committee.
This might be one of the greatest things about Flip so far: the ability to connect and collaborate with others outside of our classrooms. Flip is considered a “walled garden,” meaning you determine who has access to the grid and videos. Because of this, it’s easy and safe to connect with other classes, musicians, and educators!
A great place to start is within your school district. Is there an ensemble you could connect with for peer mentorship or recruiting purposes? High school band students could create videos for middle school students, encouraging them to sign-up for high school band. Or middle school students could create videos for elementary school students, talking about why they love band and chose their particular instrument. Often we talk about the value of having an authentic audience, an audience other than classmates and the teacher, to motivate students. Using Flip to connect your students with others outside of your classroom is a great example of an authentic audience.
Several times my students had the option to take part in a Holiday Music project. I would distribute a packet of holiday songs and encourage the students to practice them if interested. Within Flip, I set up topics for band, orchestra, and other instruments (piano, guitar, etc.), and then shared it with several music teachers around the country so their students could contribute as well. One year there were 451 videos contributed and over 80 hours of student engagement!
Watching the students interact with each other, leaving positive feedback and encouragement, was priceless. I didn’t have to spend class time teaching the holiday music; they learned it on their own. Most students practiced extra because the videos they watched inspired them. One year, a student even played Jingle Bells on the Zither and then explained what the instrument was and where it came from. It was an awesome experience for everyone involved.
Recruiting and Orientation
If you aren’t using Flip for recruiting purposes, now is the time to start! Students are our best salespeople for our programs. Use Flip to capitalize on that. High school programs can have student leaders create videos in Flip to invite and welcome incoming freshman into their ensembles. Middle school instrumental students can create videos in Flip talking about why they chose their instrument, and why beginners should join the ensemble. Similar to what I did for the family reunion, section members could introduce themselves before the first day of school or summer camp, to make the experience more inviting and comfortable.
People want to be part of something when they see others having fun doing it. Use Flip to showcase these opportunities. Connect students early on so they feel like they are part of something before it’s even begun.
If you will have students record videos in class, consider adding a “Recording Studio” to your room. I used the corner of a closet for this purpose, and while it’s not perfect, it was nice for students to have a private place to record their goal videos. It also helps eliminate some background noise, especially if seven students are practicing different things and one wants to record a video. You can check out the blog post that inspired my recording studio here: “How to Build a Recording Studio.”
Where to Begin?
Not sure where to begin? Download 7 Flip Topics to Start the Year – seven easy topics to get you, and your students, started with Flip!
Interested in learning more about Flip and how you can incorporate music technology in your teaching? Check out my newest book, Empowering Ensembles With Technology!
This book is a one-stop-shop for music teachers looking to get started, or expand their experiences, with technology in the classroom. Help your students see themselves as musicians, both inside and outside the music room, by empowering them in the ensemble setting. Check it out today: Empowering Ensembles With Technology.