FL finds ways to help students improve learning

FLHS using online videos to support learning

Joe Nathan
Education Columnist

Both national and local talent is being used to help Forest Lake and other students gain the benefits of video. That’s good news for students and a compliment to teachers who continue seeking new ways to help students learn more.

Steve Massey, Forest Lake High School principal wrote, “We have a number of teachers who have used online videos to reinforce and support learning. This includes teachers who have recorded lessons and lectures and then posted them on their teacher websites for students to access at home.

“We also have teachers who are creating “flipped” lessons where the content of a given lesson is posted on the teacher’s website and students are expected to review the information prior to class. This enables the teacher to use the class time to work with the information in a more in depth manner. In both biology and chemistry, for example, teachers have created flipped lessons and then used the class time for extensive labs where the information learned prior to class is relevant.

“On a related note, many of our textbook series have an online supplement that reinforces learning using videos and demonstrations. For instance, our math series has an online resource that provides re-teaching of the exact lesson students learned in the classroom. The lesson is retaught by using blackboard technology whereby the math concepts and problems are demonstrated on a digital blackboard.

“We are using technology to deepen and reinforce learning in many ways. Students live in a digital world and it is incumbent upon us to bring learning to their world.”

Forest Lake Superintendent Linda Madsen pointed out that “Although some teachers in other schools in the district are working on this as well, (Steve) has captured where much of the in-depth work has occurred.”

Cam Hedlund of Lakes International Language Academy in Forest Lake sent me several examples of videos, some created by teachers and students, and some created by a staff member. Some are in English and in Spanish.  Here’s a link to a video that Seth Erickson, the schools’ tech coordinator made to help in his instruction for 5th and 6th graders: http://lilacademy.org/instruction/videos/google%20apps%20signin_students.swf

Jeffrey McGonigal, Anoka-Hennepin’s acting interim assistant superintendent, reported that a number of teachers in that district have created videos for students to watch before and after class, to help them master ideas.

McGonigal showed me something called “HippoCampus: a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education. The goal of HippoCampus is to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge.   This website has hundreds of creative videos that are available free for educators, students and families:  www.hippocampus.org/myHippo/?user=myMnLC

Finally, 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.

Sibley teachers also are 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.

I saw enormous creativity in talking with people from more than 30 districts and charters. I hope we’ll find ways to share teachers’ best work around the state.

Joe Nathan, a former Minnesota public school teacher, directs the Center for School Change at Macalester.  Reactions welcome, jnathan@macalester.edu.

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