I met Ginette Garrity on Twitter. She’s a 5th grade Language Arts teacher from Bryam Schools who goes above and beyond to get her students excited and motivated about literacy. One of her many endeavors that I was able to be a part of was her Get Fired Up About Lit FlipGrid channel. It’s pretty incredible so I reached out to her to share her thoughts, challenges and successes in setting it up.
How do you use FlipGrid to connect authors to your students?
I’m a fifth grade Language Arts teacher who recently discovered a way to allow authors to enter into the classroom and connect with their readers by using Flipgrid. For me, Flipgrid was a way to connect teachers, librarians, authors, and students to create the perfect culture for a love of reading. By utilizing Flipgrid, I found an easy platform where authors could create a short video from the comforts of their own home to tell students all about their novels. I started by setting up a grid and contacting authors on Twitter, to try to spread the word. Shortly after reaching out, middle grade and young adult authors from all over the world started to create personalized videos on my “Get Fired Up About Great Lit!” Flipgrid page. This video platform allowed authors to promote their own writing, develop a connection with their readers, and build a community that shares a love of reading and writing. Students are able to access the grid at anytime on any device to see what authors are writing and what literature is best for them. All they have to do is go to flipgrid.com and enter the flip code d6e229.
Flipgrid has been a game changer this year! This grid has helped not only my students but me connect with authors and discover new literature. Not only have authors been kind enough to leave videos for my students and our district, but they have offered to Skype in about their books, give writing tips to our students, and even work with them through the revision process. Getting great literature into the hands of my students has never been easier.
How has this impacted your student’s interest in literature?
The author Flipgrid has had an enormous impact on my students and has made them eager to explore novels. They are amazed that published authors take the time to share their books and connect with them on such a personal level. It really does mean the world to them! There is now a remarkable interest in the books written by authors featured in our FlipGrid because they are connecting directly with our children. Students want to try new books and explore new genres because of the author videos. In addition, I have never had so many students recommending books to one another. Students will ask me for a book recommendation and another student jumps right into the conversation with, “Have you watched the flipgrid video on this book?” They have the book in hand and are eager to share with their peers. The author videos just spark a whole new level of excitement in middle school. My fifth graders, a class of eighty-two students, have almost read 1,000 novels this school year thanks to this new project. We talk about, celebrate, and discuss books more than ever, and for middle school students that is a big deal!
Furthermore, Flipgrid has changed the way our students interact with authors. This particular Flipgrid site has allowed students to see authors in a way that otherwise would not have been possible. Now, students can feel more connected than ever with the talented men and women that have created the stories they all love. Previously, authors were highly regarded people who existed in a world of their own. Through technology, I have been able to bring the “real person” into the lives of my students and that has made the biggest difference.
What were your lessons learned from this experience?
This new project has taught me that stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new opened up a whole new world for my students as well as myself. The connections I have formed, the books I have learned about, and the students who have found a true love of reading this year, would not have been possible if I did not start this Flipgrid page. When I first started out, I hoped to get one author video because I was not sure how this idea would go over. I quickly learned that most authors were eager to have the chance to connect with students, and they were excited to try to create a video. Currently, the author flipgrid is close to hitting fifty videos! To be honest, I am just as excited when a new author video appears on our grid as the students.
Another lesson I have learned is that you want to have the books authors are sharing available to your students. In my school, which consists of 5th-8th grade, we no longer have a school library. I have started a centralized book cart in our cafeteria, filled with the books by the authors that have been generous and caring enough to share their messages with our students. This allows the students easy access to our Flipgrid Collection, and they can sign them out during lunch. I was able to write a grant and our Education Foundation at our school has been generous enough to purchase a copy of each book written by the authors who leave a video for our students.
I started this Flipgrid page for my district because I wanted students to be just as passionate about reading as I am, and for authors to have the opportunity to talk to the students whose lives they touch with their stories. My plan is to keep the grid open and build it for as long as possible. I hope other districts will share it with their students and that authors will continue to tell us all about the fantastic books they write and the stories they love as readers too. Please feel free to use my Flipgrid page to help promote a culture of reading in your school or library, and get students excited to meet authors and discover new literature. If you want to set up your own grid and need help, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help Garrity.Ginette@byramschools.org or on Twitter @GinetteGarrity1.
Teachers/Media Specialists: Do you have an inspirational story, survival tip, organizational tip, engaging material, or a way to connect with students? If so click here to sign up.
Authors: Showcase a reading skill through your novel or a tip that develops writing skills. Click here to fill out the form.