App Smash Picture Story

App Smash Picture Story

App Smash Picture Story a Social Media Storytime Activity Using Twitter and FlipGrid

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Photo by Oleg Magni on

App Smash Picture Story a Social Media Storytime Activity Using Twitter and FlipGrid


Full disclosure, I teach university-level business writing in South Korea, so it is an English writing class for L2 Learners, and my classes are quite large. So-called, “small” classes in our department for core classes like mine are usually at least 40 students, and I have had classes with over 70 students to manage. I kept finding that students had a high level of writing, reading, and vocabulary ability, but they could not express thoughts about their writing assignments verbally. I also found that there were students who could go a whole semester without speaking English at all. Part of this was logistics; the class was just too big to have effective speaking interaction. Placing students in situations where they could practice speaking effectively was difficult in the time allotted. I have also found that when students who share the same L1 language will sometimes revert back to their L1 language when doing advanced concept group speaking L2 activities.

Challenges for second language speaking time:

Language teachers are always looking for ways to increase student speaking time. For students who are outgoing and love to talk, almost any activity will suffice for this. However, there are always students who do not receive the practice that they need and can fly under the radar and avoid having to speak. For some students, it is because of class logistics, yet some are terrified to speak in their second language. Researchers have found that effective formative assessment tools (rather than summative assessment tools) in second language oral production were helpful in reducing a student’s overall stress .

I do not know any language teacher or speech teacher that thinks NOT practicing speaking is a good thing. The only way I have found to get better at my speaking ability is to speak and do it as often as possible. So how can instructors help increase the speaking time for students? In class? How about outside of class? This is where I found FlipGrid to help.

Technology to the rescue:

I was looking for ways to increase ALL of my students’ speaking time since I had two classes of 70 students so a total of 140 students in that particular semester; this is more than I was used to and I had to make some changes. I finally came across the FlipGrid service and it ‘clicked.’ You can take a look at my evaluation paper to see the results of the first implementation. The following figure is the needs analysis from the evaluation that helped me choose FlipGrid as the tool to try .


Figure 1


Since then, I have used FlipGrid in all of my classes, no matter the subject. I am finally able to reach more students in class and give them opportunities to practice speaking in English and more often than just when they are in class with me. I have modified some of the activities and am starting to get a library of activities and will share some of them in subsequent posts.

For this post, I will share one of the activities I have posted on the FlipGrid Discovery Library recently. If you use this activity, please let me know how it goes by dropping me a line on Twitter @ReidMcLain

Social Media Story Time:

If you are new to FlipGrid and have shy students, I found the following activity helpful in getting students started using the app without much apprehension. It also allows for some interaction in social media, if appropriate. It will enable them to warm up to the idea of FlipGrid without the additional stress of having to appear on camera.

Full Social Media Storytime Activity Instructions:

Technology Resources for the Activity:

The Main Apps

  • Twitter – A social media staple, to network with other storytellers.
  • FlipGrid – The Student Voice platform! Free for all Teachers

Finding Royalty-Free Images:

  • Pixabay – Free resource for finding images that carry the Creative Commons C0 attribute and royalty-free.
  • Pexels – Another free resource for finding royalty-free images

Other Resources:

  • ThreadReader – This service collects the tweets from a Twitter thread and makes it easy to read the threaded tweets in order.
  • Screencast-o-Matic – A free and easy to use screen recording tool. Works on Windows, Mac, and Chromebook operating systems
  • Bitmoji – I use Bitmoji to add fun, if you use the Google slides, you may want to switch out my images for your own.




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