By Matthew Frattali, Middle School Tech Coach, #TeachSDGs Champion, Washington, D.C.
We often ask ourselves, “What can I do to teach SDGs? Many people at my school have not even heard of the term.” One of my goals this year is to put the SDGs on the radar of my school’s administration. And though I have little control over curriculum as a tech coach, I can use the tools at my disposal. One of my roles is to augment student voice with digital tools, so that can be my contribution to teaching SDGs.
The hottest tool in edtech right now is Flipgrid, an asynchronous video tool. We did not know we needed asynchronous video until Flipgrid made it so easily accessible. In fact, their mission is to “amplify student voice.”
Think back on your academic career. How many times were you assessed on finding your voice? Students are assessed daily on reading, writing, and computation, but we know the reason why students are so rarely taught how to speak: in a room full of children, we want the room quiet and orderly and often don’t want to hear their voices. Of course, it does not have to be this way. And yet, we need to look no further than Donald Trump or Martin Luther King to understand the power of spoken word.
Students would be well-served to be comfortable on camera to be effective 21st century citizens and to do the necessary SDG work. Video is a daunting task for many, not only do you have to look presentable, but there is a myth that it absolutely must be perfect, causing immense anxiety among students and teachers alike. We know that synchronous video tools like Skype don’t work very well for camera shy students for these very reasons. But, when you put asynchronous video in the hands of students, and they have the power to record again and again and again until they think they look and sound acceptable, then you have a powerful tool to help students find their voice.
It gets better. Asynchronous video is training wheels for synchronous video, which in turn is training wheels for video production and citizen journalism. After a student is comfortable on Flipgrid (asynchronous video), they could then be comfortable doing a Mystery Skype (synchronous video), and later as adults they could be comfortable Periscoping from a social action (video production and citizen journalism).
How do you start with Flipgrid?
It’s simple, in fact simplicity is one reason why educators love Flipgrid. For teachers, you can learn Flipgrid by going to Vedchat, a professional learning community powered by Flipgrid. There is also a teacher grid dedicated to SDGs facilitated by none other than Sir Ken!
For students, there are countless grids to express student voice, including TeachSDGs regular Browyn Joyce’s “What If?” grid where they ponder big questions. And, there is a grid dedicated to SDGs for students as well.
Asynchronous video is a game-changer and is truly a way for students to find their voice and communicate the value of SDGs to the world. We’ll see you on the grid!
Matthew Frattali (@heyMattFrat) is the middle school tech coach at Lowell School in Washington DC. He is an EdCamp Junkie, #Vedchat founder, GoogleEI, and he is especially interested in PBL and genius hour. Examples of student work can be seen on his Youtube channel at www.mattfrat.com.