How to get into Harvard

In Legally Blonde, Ellie Woods submitted a video essay to get into Harvard Law School.

10 tech trends in education

10 Major Technology Trends in Education include the rise of mobile computing and teachers assigning video lessons, according to the 2013 Speak Up Survey from Project Tomorrow.

Eighty-nine percent of high school students and 50 percent of upper-elementary students have access to Internet-connected smart phones, the survey reports. 

Sixty-four percent of students use 3G- or 4G-enabled devices as their primary means of connecting to the Internet; another 23 percent connect through an Internet-enabled TV or Wii console.

Forty-six percent of teachers are using video in in the classroom. One-third of students watch online video lessons to help with their homework — the “Khan Academy effect” — and 23 percent of students watch video created by their teachers.

For techno-skeptics:

Carnival of Homeschooling

This week’s Carnival of Homeschooling, presents the Vlog Hop, which I take to be a video conversation by bloggers. Host Andrea of Notes from a Homeschooled Mom demonstrates here.

Videotaping helps teachers improve

At a low-performing Indianapolis high school, instructional coaches use classroom videotapes to help teachers improve their lessons and learn from colleagues, reports Scott Elliott in the Indianapolis Star. The Star is following the turnaround (it’s hoped) of Arlington High, which was taken over by the state after six years of very low test scores. EdPower, which took over the school a year ago, installed a camera in every classroom.

As a video played showing first-year high school English teacher Katie Bonfiglio at work, Spanish teacher Patrice Patton watched in awe.

“Wow, I’ve never seen those kids behave like that in my class,” Patton gushed, as she watched a room of typically restless ninth-grade boys fully engaged in a discussion of literature.

That’s just the reaction Paul Chin, Arlington High School’sassistant principal, was hoping for when he asked Bonfiglio if he could show her recorded lesson to about 15 of her colleagues.

.  . . (Bonfiglio) found the discussion with her peers so eye-opening she made changes to some of her other teaching routines.

As a teacher at a high-performing, high-poverty charter school in Newark run by Uncommon Schools, Chin recorded himself teaching so he could analyze his lessons and discuss the video with the principal. He shows Arlington teachers videos of teachers at his old school teaching effectively and helps them analyze their own lessons.

Video recording of teachers also can be used to evaluate teacher performance, which means it’s controversial. Indiana is requiring public schools to create teacher evaluation and rating systems.

Harvard researcher Thomas Kane analyzed 7,500 lessons taught by 1,300 teachers in six school districts for the  Methods of Effective Teaching Study, which was funded by the Gates Foundation.

“Digital video may be more valuable than an observer’s notes for allowing a teacher to “see,” literally, the strengths and weaknesses in their practice,” Kane said. “Someone cannot remember what they did not notice in the first place.”

Kane believes all teachers should record themselves teaching and submit “lessons they are proud of” for their performance reviews. “We would then train principals on how to use the video for evaluating and providing productive feedback to teachers.”

‘Extreme Makeover’ for teachers

“In deference to a world enthralled by shows like ‘Extreme Makeover’ and ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’ the public school district in Washington has hired a reality television company to produce videos intended to improve the skills of its teachers,” reports the New York Times.

The 80 videos, 5 to 15 minutes in length, are peppered with quick jump cuts, slick screen labels and a jaunty soundtrack. In short interviews and classroom snippets, the district’s highest-performing teachers demonstrate how they teach a range of lessons, from adding decimal numbers to guiding students of differing ability levels through a close reading of the Marshall Plan.

. . . “Teachers were saying to us, ‘Just be very clear about what good teaching looks like,’ ” said Kaya Henderson, Washington’s schools chancellor.

Charter school networks, school districts, universities, companies and nonprofits are developing online video libraries showing model teaching, reports the Times. Some are focused on lessons aligned with Common Core standards.

Teaching Channel, a nonprofit, has a collection of more than 500 professionally produced videos of teachers recommended by school districts and other teacher organizations. The University of Michigan is indexing about 16,000 videos of fourth- through ninth-grade English and math teachers in six urban districts shot by researchers financed by the Gates Foundation., a popular sharing site for lesson plans, is working to develop a video component. And hundreds of amateur clips have been uploaded to YouTube by individual teachers.

D.C. evaluators and principals will recommend specific videos to teachers and set up discussions.

Columbia economist Jonah E. Rockoff predicts watching teaching videos will help mid-range teachers improve but won’t do much for low performers. Teachers, what do you think? Will the videos prove to be useful to most, some or few teachers?

Video on demand for teachers

TED, a nonprofit known for its annual ideas conference, will provide free video lessons of 10 minutes or less on TED-Ed, reports the Washington Post.

Imagine you’re a high school biology teacher searching for the most vivid way to explain electrical activity in the brain. How about inserting metal wires into a cockroach’s severed leg and making that leg dance to music?

Starting Monday, that eye-popping lesson, performed in a six-minute video by neuroscientist and engineer Greg Gage, is available free online.

“Right now there’s a teacher somewhere out there delivering a mind-altering lesson and the frustrating thing is, it only reaches the students in that class,” said TED-Ed project director Logan Smal­ley. “We’re trying to figure out how to capture that lesson and pair it with professional animators to make that lesson more vivid and put it in a place where teachers all over the world can share it.”

In contrast with many of the free lessons now available online, TED-Ed uses “sophisticated animation, professional editing and high-quality production values,” according to the Post.

Teachers also can find free lessons on YouTube Teachers, a new channel whose slogan is “spend more time teaching, less time searching.”

Here’s a clip of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.


Flipping catches on

Flipping instruction — typically, students watch a video at home and work through problems at school — is going mainstream, writes Education Sector’s Bill Tucker in Education Next.

Colorado chemistry teacher Jonathan Bergmann says “he can more easily query individual students, probe for misconceptions around scientific concepts, and clear up incorrect notions.” He has time to work individually with students.

Bergmann notes that he now spends more time with struggling students, who no longer give up on homework, but work through challenging problems in class. Advanced students have more freedom to learn independently.

In Washington, D.C., Andrea Smith, a 6th-grade math teacher at E. L. Haynes, a high-performing public charter school, says flipping is educational for teachers.

. . . crafting a great four- to six-minute video lesson poses a tremendous instructional challenge: how to explain a concept in a clear, concise, bite-sized chunk. Creating her own videos forces her to pay attention to the details and nuances of instruction—the pace, the examples used, the visual representation, and the development of aligned assessment practices. In a video lesson on dividing fractions, for example, Smith is careful not to just teach the procedure—multiply by the inverse—but also to represent the important underlying conceptual ideas.

USA Today also looks at flipped teaching. Stacey Rosen, an AP calculus teacher at a Maryland private school,  “digitally records her lessons with a tablet computer as a virtual blackboard, then uploads them to iTunes and assigns them as homework.” She uses class time to help students work out exercises based on the recorded lessons.

Before flipping, she couldn’t cover all the material before the AP exam. Now, she finishes a month early and uses the extra time for review, boosting the number of students who score a perfect 5.

Students watch lessons at home, sometimes two or three times, and replay confusing sections. If they’re still confused, they query a friend. If that doesn’t work, they ask Roshan the following day.

On a recent morning, she told the class a student was confused about the intermediate value theorem.

 “It’s a really complicated name for something really simple. You guys want to go over it right now?” No one protested, so she launched into the lesson: She talked, she drew, she took students’ questions. She drew some more. Start to finish, the lesson lasted three minutes and 25 seconds. Back to homework.

Critics say flipping won’t work for low-income students who don’t have computers or reliable Internet connections at home. Of course, it also requires students to watch the videos at home.

In addition, it encourages lecturing, which many think is an ineffective way to teach. “It’s just kind of Lecture 1.0,” says Frank Noschese, a physics teacher at John Jay High School in Cross River, N.Y.

Roshan disagrees.

“In an English class, you send the kids home to read a passage, and then in class you discuss that passage,” she says. “Why in math class am I more or less having them read the passage in class?”

So far, most flippers seem to be teaching math and science classes.  I think it’s too soon to predict that it will go mainstream, but momentum is building.

YouTube launches teachers’ site will show ways to use video in the classroom, writes James Sanders, a middle school history teacher at KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy. That includes “lesson plan suggestions, highlights of great educational content on YouTube, and training on how to film your own educational videos.”

I use videos to spark classroom discussions, increase instructional time by assigning videos as homework, and create playlists for each lesson so students can dive deeper into specific areas that interest them. I also found countless educational videos on YouTube that energize and excite my students about a number of topics, such as medieval history.

This summer, YouTube Teacher’s Studio featured award-winning teacher trainers Jim Sill and Ramsey Musallam, who led workshops on “Finding your inner Spielberg” and “FlipTeaching.”  Sanders taught about using YouTube as a powerful educational tool.

Below is “Monster Foam Science Experiment.”

A world without math

A world without math would be terrible, according to a newscast produced by students at P.S. 1 in the Bronx.

Olga Rojas reports on the math blackout:

Khan: Use video to ‘flip’ education

Salman Khan, creator of Khan Academy teaching videos, calls for “flipping” education:  Let students watch video lectures at home and do “homework” in class with help from the teacher.

Once a hedge-fund analyst, Khan started making YouTube videos five years ago to supplement his math tutoring sessions with his cousins. They preferred the videos, Khan says. The first time you’re trying to learn something, the last thing you need is another human being standing over you saying, “Do you understand it?”

All fifth through twelfth graders in Little Falls, Minnesota will get iPads next year, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. This year, fifth graders were given iPads. Some teachers are flipping instruction:

The iPads have allowed teachers to pre-record some lessons that their classes watch as homework, leaving more time at school for them to work with students one-on-one, (Superintendent Curt) Tryggestad said.

The school board used funds set aside for textbooks to pay for the $499 computers.