Teachers at the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District have begun incorporating video recordings of their lessons as a way to support their students outside of the classroom.
Lesson recordings are now one piece of the self-paced learning initiative that the district is continuing to develop. Details of the new technology supporting teachers as they record lessons for students was presented during the Sept. 18 board of education meeting. Making the presentation were Director of Technology & Innovation Mike Daugherty, high school Principal Monica Asher and high school math and computer science teacher Emily Beal.
Ms. Asher explained that availability of the video-recordings that allow students to review lessons multiple times is important, especially since some parents are unable to help their children with homework that involves complex content.
“We want our students to be able to access support from their own teachers, not just at a variety of times during the school day, but also outside of school,” Ms. Asher said. “The other thing that is important, when we talk about our tutors and our interventions, for those who may not have that background in the content, they are able to access teaching by our own teachers in the building to help further support students.”
One teacher in particular, high school science teacher Lisa Salyers, initiated the recording of her own lectures and inspired the district to pursue resources for more teachers to participate. Ms. Salyers reported to Ms. Asher that her students had found the recordings helpful, using them to review lectures and catch up after absences.
Mr. Daugherty said, however, that the recordings were taken on a Chromebook, which had low audio quality. Another teacher at Chagrin Falls High School, Josh Maas, who teaches AP Calculus, suggested the district purchase a light board for teachers to use and donated his teacher of the year money toward it.
Combined with money from a parent-teacher organization (PTO) grant, the district was able to purchase a camera and microphone, as well as a light board, which is a clear Plexiglas surface with illumination on two sides used similarly to a dry-erase white board. In a dark room with only the lights on the board, teachers used special markers to write on the back of the surface as they recorded a lesson, flipping the video in post production so students could read what they wrote. The light board cost about $5,000, Mr. Daugherty said.
Teacher Emily Beal was one of several teachers who recorded a combined total of over 50 lessons in music, math, science and computer science over this past summer, which have been published to YouTube, Instagram and Google Drive for students to access.
“A few kids came in and they’re like, ‘Those videos are awesome. They helped me so much,’” Ms. Beal said of the response to her videos, which guided students through problems specific to their class work. One of her videos was shown to the board at their meeting.
According to Mr. Daugherty, Mr. Maas commented that he was running out of videos because students are growing accustomed to them now and they even like watching them. Mr. Daugherty said he provides some technical assistance and training, but many of the teachers who are using this resource are able to quickly edit the videos themselves.
Board member Phil Rankin wondered whether other school districts are doing similar things, to which Mr. Daugherty responded that the district is most likely one of the only K-12 educators in Ohio to provide learning for their students in this way.
“I talked to some tech directors in the area. They all thought it was cool, but nobody was doing it themselves,” he said. “They’re definitely doing it for collegiate level, not so much in the K-12 environment from what I’ve seen. So I feel like we’re a little bit ahead of the curve on this one.”
Going forward, the district plans to follow this curve and hopes more teachers will adopt the video recording of their lessons. Superintendent Robert Hunt added that though self-paced learning is a goal in the district, some teachers already are adopting strategies like video learning in their classrooms.
“We have some great examples [of self-paced learning] right here within our walls that we could grow further into,” Mr. Hunt said. He added that self-paced learning, where each student determines his or her learning experience, has a wide variety of implementations that the district will consider going forward.
The board plans to meet for a special meeting on Sept. 25 to review the district’s report card results and goals. The community is encouraged to attend at 6 p.m. in the Sands Community Room at 400 E. Washington St. in Chagrin Falls.