Videos are helping students see what they have missed in class
by Joe Nathan
Both national and local talent is being used to help Lakeville, Farmington and other Minnesota students gain the benefits of online videos. That’s good news for students and a compliment to teachers who continue seeking new ways to help students learn.
Andrew Hilliard, an eighth-grade math teacher at McGuire Middle School, turns all of his class lectures into videos that students who miss class can view and keep current with the curriculum.
“One of the most challenging obstacles for any teacher to overcome, especially in math, is dealing with student absences,” Hilliard said. “The videos we’ve been posting online allow students who have been absent the opportunity to stay connected with the material they’ve missed due to vacations, illnesses, etc. This ‘hybrid flip’ classroom also allows students who were uneasy with material during class to revisit the lesson at their own pace.”
Hilliard said student and parent feedback has been positive.
“I had a student who went to a family wedding in the Caribbean for a week in January, for example, and she viewed the videos to stay current on the material we were covering in class,” Hilliard said. “I’ve had other students who missed a day of class due to an illness watch our videos during homeroom so they are caught up to speed prior to coming to class in the afternoon. Now I feel like I have a great resource for students when they come to me and say, ‘What did I miss?’ ”
All of Hilliard’s videos are linked within his Edline page, so students must log on and then pick the lessons they would like to view. A link to an example of one of the screencasts is at www.screencast.com/t/Elj90Crabx7.
Farmington Superintendent Jay Haugen had a surprise in store when the district announced recently that every one of its eight schools would have one or more teachers involved in a flipped classroom pilot.
“I was amazed at the number of staff who came forward, and how many were already recording lessons for students,” he said.
While this type of instruction is happening in all subjects areas, and all levels, at this point most seem to be in the areas of science and math, he said.
He has posted one of those lessons, a middle school math lesson, on his blog at www.farmington.k12.mn.us.
Initially, the Farmington district will be making lessons available on a DVD, or a take-home iTouch.
“This is needed for about 10 percent of students,” Haugen said. “Ultimately, as we work to customize education for every child, we will work to make sure every student has access to a mobile learning device, 24/7.”
Jeffrey McGonigal, Anoka-Hennepin associate superintendent for high schools, pointed me to HippoCampus, which has hundreds of free videos that educators, families and students can use. This is part of the Minnesota Learning Campus website, a project of the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, and the University of Minnesota.
A number of Anoka-Hennepin School District teachers have created videos.
Students can view these before a lesson, thus giving the teacher more time to help students practice the concept, and obtain individual assistance.
For a different approach, check out a video by Minnesota Transitions, an inner city charter school that cleverly focuses on negative numbers. It’s called “Don’t be Negative,” and is found at vimeo.com/35905316.
West St. Paul Sibley High School teachers sent several videos they have created. The first helps explain how they are replacing word problems with video problems (www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh_0puziQog).
Sibley teachers are also helping students make their own videos illustrating physics principles. A basic learning principle is if you can explain something to others clearly and accurately, you know the subject well.
In talking with people from more than 30 districts and charters, I saw enormous creativity. I hope we’ll find ways to share teachers’ best work around the state.
Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher and administrator, directs the Center for School Change at Macalester. He can be reached at email@example.com. Columns reflect the opinion of the author.