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Blended Learning, EdTech, Edublogger, Education

How our video lessons come to life :)

I love flipping my classroom!  There is some culture shock from the students – but if they work hard and are willing, they overcome it.  There is some push back from the parents, but it has been my experience that after explaining how the entire process works, they are generally more accepting.  This post is for those of you interested in flipping a lesson, unit, week, or class.  It’s possible that you will work very hard on this journey and also totally possible that you reach more kids than you ever thought possible!

I flip my regular Calculus and PreAP Precalculus classes.  My partner in crime, Kristina also flips her PreAP Precalculus class and has tons of video available to her other math classes.  We have discovered over the past 18 months, its better to record lessons together than apart.  She would watch every lesson and make sure it was clean.  I would kinda watch my lessons, but never critically and very seldom hers.  It came to our attention at the end of last year that there were a couple of places that we disagreed on exactly what was acceptable.  So when we started school this year, we did all of the recording together.  Man was this a great idea!  We could now interject humor, make mistakes, correct each other, crack the occasional joke, and generally make the lessons much more palatable (not to mention the blooper reel was constantly fed).  This is how we do it, take what you need, modify what you want and let me know what worked for you and what changes you made.  When we all share together – teaching wins!!  For my colleagues that teach a class that does not appear to lend itself to flipping, think about those things that you say 20 times every day in your course.  Then take that idea, and flip it.  You will be surprised at the different ways you can come up with to get more out of your students.

What we use we have acquired over time.  There are cheaper items out there (free apps for iPad, free screeencasting websites, etc.) but these are the things we use with almost every lesson:

We try very hard to plan ahead – alas, school can be the most difficult of beasts!  But what we do before any unit is create a Google Doc of all of the examples, the sequencing, important vocabulary, assignments – basically anything that we feel the students need to know.  We love Google Docs for the ease of editing, for the way we can access it from anywhere and we can both edit a document at the same time from different locations.  For those items that can be tricky to create on your own in a word document situation, we love SnagIt to capture and paste images into Google Docs.  Our district has a print shop for major orders, so if we can get everything together in time, we send our printed off Google Doc to the Print Shop.

Once the document is printed out and ready to go, we use SnagIt to capture screenshots of the Google Doc and paste it into Sketchbook Express.  It took some trial and error, but we developed a template that works on our computers:  where we can write, and where our webcam will display our picture.  With sketchbook express, there are six layers available to create in, so we load those up!

*We script nothing!  So when you are watching our videos, most of those are done in one take.  There have been some situations where we have totally scrapped what we recorded, but we generally do not do this.  It is totally ok with us if the kids find a mistake that we may have made.  It also allows us to correct ourselves if we catch it in time.  This, hopefully, will let the students know it is ok to make mistakes AND here is one way to double check yourself.

After the groundwork is laid out, we get together during our planning period, and in front of the green screen fire up Camtasia and record.  We record the entire screen, it can be busy on the sides where we are picking colors or other items and we can edit this out later.  We also record the webcam, so that our students can see our faces.  Hopefully this will make the notes a little more personal – they can see us and know we are the teachers!  Recording can take a little while to get through, there are sometimes situations that pop up, last second edits to the original document, or last second images/graphs that we want to include.  We do not intentionally leave items out when creating our Google Doc, but when we start writing out the notes, it becomes apparent that there are some things that need to be added.  Kristina and I work really well together, which is very key.  We don’t get upset if we have different views on things, we don’t get upset if we disagree on ways to solve: its all about how to be great for the students!

Camtasia is a really robust complete editing software and gives us several different ways to edit each lesson.  Camstasia will take some getting used to, it can be really overwhelming when you first start.  But we also started small and as we learned more about how the program works, our videos became more complex (without a significant increase in the amount of time spent editing).  We have started using a green screen this year (around the semester break) and that has been fun to mess with!  The Green Screen is very easy to edit in Camtasia.

Once the video is completed we can edit it down any way that suits our needs – entire lesson, bite sized examples, two parts, whatever!  Now its time to upload – create a YouTube Channel for free and start amazing your colleagues!  Or for those of you who would like to create entire lessons and have them ready for your kids at a moments notice – check out Knowmia (super fan of this site follow this link)!  Its a one stop shop for teachers who going to create video lessons!

We have enjoyed the journey (mostly – there have been frustrating times…) and if you are looking for ideas or would like some help, just leave a comment or Tweet me @haselwoodmath!


About Scott

My name is Scott. After 18.5 years as a high school math teacher in public education I have made the move to become a full time PhD student. This decisions was difficult, but has been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done. Teaching in high school was an incredible experience for me, so leaving an environment that I loved for the unknown was a challenge. As I high school teacher, I taught almost every math course that could be offered. I was able to earn National Board Certification in Young Adult Math. I was honored as my building Teacher of the Year, no mean feat at Edmond Memorial High School!! My career changed as I became fascinated with educational technology and all of the things that it can do for teachers. I flipped my class. I used iPads and blogging (in high school math!!). I started using gamification and mastery learning. I changed my practice. I chose to go back to school to learn as much as I could. To bring that knowledge from academia and research to the teacher on the front line. I have had the opportunity to present at several conferences and share what I have learned with others. Its through these connections that we can be the best teachers we can for our students. They deserve it and we sell ourselves short when we don't give it. I love talking with teachers about change. About incorporating educational technology. About the power that they have to change lives. My blog space is me, it shares my passions and frustrations, my joys and my learnings. If you are interested in what I am studying, please visit my graduate school pages. If you are interested in the flipped classroom, I have some links to get your started. I would love to meet you! Do not hesitate to reach out! I would enjoy the opportunity to work with your staff or trade ideas with your teachers - let me know! Have a great day! #BeBrilliant



  1. Pingback: The Year in Review – What a year 2014! | Teaching From Here - January 5, 2015

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