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Google Keep, Flipgrid, and Spinners

Google Keep– This is a tool that I learned about while at the GAFE Summit this spring. Google Keep is a way to take quick notes on any device (download the app for your phone or iPad)– since it is web-based notes are accessible from all of your devices! I used to be a big fan of adding the virtual sticky notes to my desktop to help me remember little bits of info, like when I had bus duty or to have a student in period 1 take the quiz after being absent. The only problem with the desktop notes is that I can’t take those suckers with me everywhere I go, they’re only on my desktop. Insert Google Keep. Here are some of the features it has to offer:

  • Notes can include pictures or audio
  • Type, draw or handwrite
  • Schedule reminders/alerts
  • Share notes with others
  • Send notes to Google Docs
  • Change color of notes for easy sorting
  • Archive notes you’d like to keep but not see right away
  • Add the Chrome extension to easily save websites, images, and content from the web to your notes

What I love is that my notes can range from those quick reminders (that I can set a notification for so I don’t just look past the note) to something I saw online that I’d like to come back to later. Not only is this a great teacher tool, but can you imagine having kiddos use it, too? I love the idea of students sharing notes with parents or teachers, or vice-a-versa– routines, homework, feedback, notetaking, outlines, brainstorms, reminders, etc.

Flipgrid– I’ve been seeing lots of posts about this tool on Twitter. Flipgrid is an online platform for teachers to post topics and have students respond via video. Students can respond to other posts and teachers can provide feedback on posts. There are a number of settings that can be adjusted for privacy, responses, etc.

Before getting super excited about this one, I have to tell you that this site is not free. It really breaks my heart. I think there are some great possibilities here for students and teachers but it is not cheap. It is free to create 1 grid, so my guess is the only way around the fee is to continue using the same one (sort or archive videos as you see fit to make this happen).

Here are just a few ways that I can see this tool being used in classrooms. I’m sure you can think of many more– so please share!

  • World Language– easily have students practice speaking and provide feedback for improvement.
  • Social Studies– have students discuss an event, idea, or concept from history or current events and respond to each other.
  • Math– talk through the process of solving a problem, what steps they took and why, etc. and provide feedback.
  • English/Language Arts– checks for reading fluency, discussions, debates, and more.
  • Visual Art– critique artwork, discuss an aspect of artworks, explain the thinking, rationale, or process behind an artwork, etc.

Fidget Spinners– Fidget spinners. Sigh. Everyone has one. I’ve seen students in the hall comparing the colors, the price they paid, and how fast they can spin them. I’ve read posts about how these little objects can help students focus and others about how they are a major disruption in class. No matter what you’re seeing in your room, here are a few thoughts–

  • This will end eventually like all other trends.
  • Be sure to take advantage of that “teachable moment”. There is a difference between fidgeting and playing– students need to know what that looks like.
  • Some students will find these objects incredibly fascinating while others could care less. Try not to blow it all out of proportion.
  • Don’t want to see them in your class? Make your policy clear to students and explain your reasons for implementing the policy. Stick to it.
  • Remember that the alternative for some students is to tap their pencil or foot, doodle (this was me),  play with their hair, or turn around in their seat.
  • Anytime you can connect to students’ interests you will increase the likelihood of engagement– weasel spinners into story problems, debate having fidgets in the classroom after reading an article, or slide them into creativity prompts– design a new fidget, etc.  



Instructional coach and former art teacher on the hunt for tips, tricks, strategies, and knowledge to pass along.

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