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I am still Mike Mohammad a.k.a Mo Physics

I am still Mike Mohammad I am not a “yeah me” kind of person, but yesterday June 4th was an amazing day for me professionally. Two years ago on June 4th, I was in a medical coma (we’ll save that story for a future post.) I am proud of my work yesterday, I just wanted to take a moment to share it and celebrate myself (which I never do.)  If you don’t know me, I have been a secondary science educator for 20+ years and have taught 7 different science courses in my career. This year, though, I had been asked to make the transition to a Teaching and Learning Specialist. In this role, I work with teachers with EdTech tools and have a specialty in our district’s learning management system Canvas. I was one of the first teachers to pilot the system and have used it extensively in my classroom to help streamline workflows. Its use also helps in college readiness as most universities in our state, Wisconsin, use it as their learning management system. Ok, enough of that let’s talk about June 4th

Mo Hellos Mo Connections

I have been lucky to do many collaborations with Elementary School teachers with my physics classes. I’ve had great collaborations with Jessica Ebert, Kate Sommerville & Angela Patterson, and Katie Spadoni. Our transition to Virtual Learning has put a halt to any ability to have a face-to-face collaboration. But, my experience with Flipgrid and a new friend has allowed me to start a new collaboration between High School Physics students and a class of kindergartners.

It all started when  I had this Twitter conversation with someone in my district.

Now, I’ve only met Megan Peschke face to face twice. (And, I only remember one of them. I’ll leave it to her to tell the story of that one.) Well, the idea was launched in that conversation of using Flipgrid as a place to create a connection between the two classrooms: My 2 sections of Physics and her Kindergartners. I’ve been using Flipgrid with great success with my Physics students all year and it has really taken off during our virtual instruction time. My learners communicated that it is an easy to use tool for them to express themselves. So, I figured this would be a perfect platform for asynchronous communication.

So, how did we get started? Anytime a new grid is created, a topic is created in the grid called Say Hello to Flipgrid. It is a place for students to introduce themselves to the group while getting a handle for creating their first video. So, we decided to use this as a place to create simple introductions. All we asked was for students to introduce themselves with name and age. Then, I wanted students to try to use one of the Flipgrid camera tools which is adding a sticker. So, we had students say what their favorite animal was and add a sticker. Megan pointed out that her students were currently studying 2D and 3D shapes. Using that info, we had students state what their favorite shape is. They could then either show one in their video, add an image of one, or use the drawing tool in the Flipgrid camera to draw one on screen.

We created a single Grid for all of our learners named after our school mascots called Dragons & Lancers. For our Hello Topic, I created a Shorts video to walk through the process of creating the video for the Kindergartners (and their parents who would be helping them with the recording). 

My students recorded their posts first so that the Littles (and their parents) could see some examples and learn about the Bigs. A couple of days later, we had the Littles record their videos. I was amazed at their ability (kids & parents) to use Flipgrid so easily. Of course, I wasn’t there to see what the actual process looked like. But, it seemed like it went pretty well. A couple of days after that, I had my high schoolers reply to at least two of the kindergartners. I already knew my students were great. But, they showed me something very special. Their willingness to go reply with genuine empathy to the littles was great. When I started watching them, I have to admit it got a little dusty in the room. Here’s an exchange Megan captured.

We are far away from our students and classrooms. They are far away from us and their classmates. During these times, I am the type of person who prioritizes course standards when I design my instruction. The social aspects that are at the heart of every school day can easily fall by the wayside for me. Seeing the response of my students to this simple hello activity is challenging my idea of what virtual learning can and should look like. Just because we are completing asynchronous instruction doesn’t mean that students shouldn't feel disconnected from each other. 

The ability to create in Flipgrid so that students can see each other’s work and communicate is amazing. There is a much different feeling than putting a text comment in a document. As students continue to post their hellos and replies, it is amazing to see the numbers of views and number of hours we are taking to learn about each other as people and not content standards.

Although this first topic was a simple hello, we plan to use this space not just to connect socially. We plan to use this space to share some of our learning as well. 

As always, I have to give a big thank you to all of the parents and students who are taking a risk with something new in these stressful times. And of course Megan for taking the leap to collaborate with me simply based on a Twitter conversation.


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