As the year winds down, I’m continuing a Teaching Channel tradition and taking a moment to reflect on four things I learned this year.
1. Change as an opportunity for growth
This year was split in half for me. On June 1st, my family and I moved from Chicago to a tiny western Massachusetts hill-town of 1,800 people. We moved away from the friends and family we’d surrounded ourselves with for years, to an environment where, at least for a time, it felt like it was us against the world. The transition was tough at first, but we eventually found our stride. Though the field of education hardly ever feels like it’s slowing down, the idea that change can be an opportunity for growth is a powerful one, as we start the new year.
As many will do at this time of year, we’ve been reflecting. Thanks to you, it was a terrific year for Teaching Channel. First, our audience continued to grow, and today we have over 645,000 registered educators in our community. This is incredibly important because it signals that teachers find what we are producing valuable. Your registration influences foundations and corporations who are sponsoring new video series and tools for us. In addition, it matters to school districts, the Department of Education, and to many of our partners who care about making sure educators are getting the support they need.
In 2012, we launched Teaching Channel Teams, an interactive, collaboration platform that we license to districts, schools, and PD organizations to foster educator collaboration around video. We think video is important in two critical ways:
- It helps all of us see ways to teach that we may not be familiar with, and
- It helps us see what we’re actually doing in the classroom when we examine our own teaching practice.
It’s time for Teaching Channel’s year in review, and what a year it’s been! We have some fun numbers to share with you. This year, Teaching Channel released 258 videos, including our series on Deeper Learning, the Getty Arts Integration videos, and a series for teachers of English Language Learners. Teachers around the world hit “play” over 5 million times on Teaching Channel, and we served you over 330,000 hours of video. Now, let’s get into some specifics:
Most Watched Videos of 2014
New Teacher Survival Guide: Classroom Management
Improving Participation with Talk Moves
Making Math Fun with Place Value Games
Reasoning About Division
Socratic Seminars: Patience and Practice
Sometimes we have to look outside to see inside. I recently shared a series of “teacher images” with a group of educators, confessing that these people had given me as much insight about the craft of teaching as anyone: Mister Rogers, James Lipton of Inside the Actor’s Studio, Julia Child, Jiro the sushi-master, and long-time basketball coach Pat Summitt. In each case, watching this person in the midst of his or her craft has given me entrance into my own. Some may see this as a subversive way of learning, others may call it connection making or transfer, but in the end, I call it inspiration. In fact, that’s where inspiration comes from: the interplay of different ideas, the exchange of disparate subjects, the juxtaposition of mediums. As Rosamond Harding notes in her book, An Anatomy of Inspiration, “originality depends on new and striking combinations of ideas” and that inspiration comes not only from knowing our subject deeply, but from “the more [we] know beyond it.”
What We’re Reading!
We’re very excited to announce the Winter book for Teaching Channel’s Book Club: Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools Through Student-Engaged Assessment by Expeditionary Learning’s Ron Berger. He shares a new way of thinking about how we can change the primary role of assessment — from evaluating and ranking students to motivating them to learn.
I work with a variety of students, many of whom are English Language Learners or have specific learning disabilities. I have found that these students often have more difficulties with auditory processing and language than other students. Luckily, when one sense is struggling, our other senses come to the rescue: these students are usually visual learners. The majority of my students are so visually acute that if I change one small thing in my room, they will walk in and say, “What did you do? The room looks completely different.” Knowing their visual perceptiveness is such a strength means I can leverage it as much as possible.
The teachers at Tahlequah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma are committed to making sure all of their students receive engaging and rigorous math instruction. After realizing that some of their ninth graders weren’t ready to take Algebra 1, they created an Algebra Skills class. In this class, students (many of whom are in Special Education) spend their ninth grade year working on basic algebra skills with math teacher Gary Akin and Special Education inclusion teacher Marjean Dowling. During their 10th grade year, the same students participate in a contextual Algebra 1 class.
Teaching through the arts can be a great entry point into content. Through engaging, arts-rich instruction, students are hooked into learning. But even more than just an entry point, arts-integration can provide a scaffold for helping students tackle increasingly complex cognitive tasks.
Lindsay Young, a High School teacher at Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga, California, does an amazing job using the arts to scaffold important reading skills. Lindsay teaches an English Language Development class for long-term English Language Learners who are in Special Education. Close reading, a key reading skill, can be hard to master, but Lindsay helps her students develop their abilities by close reading portraits the way that they would a text.
We’re excited to tell you about a new series we’re producing in partnership with Achieve and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The new videos will introduce you to the NGSS and cover the three dimensions of the new standards:
- Crosscutting Concepts
- Disciplinary Core Ideas
- Science and Engineering Practices
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*Remind is a free and private service. We will use it to text you when new science content is available on Teaching Channel.
By now you have probably heard that arts integration is a thing. You might have had some coaching on how to connect an art project to a lesson, or your school may have brought back drama, dance, and the visual arts. This is all very exciting. Yet for some, we may still be wondering, “What’s the big idea with arts integration?” I’m here to help! There’s a big, wide, wonderful world of teaching in and through the arts to deepen critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.