Education Blog

Everyone’s at Home(school)

By Aaron Mace, 3rd Grade Teacher Claremont ES 04.16.20

After 15 years of working at the Burns, I decided to move on and enter the world of public education. This past year I have had the pleasure of working as a third grade teacher in the Ossining School District. I hear that first years are always hard, but this has been something else.

When school first closed, I felt that it was important to reach out to my students. I knew they were all dealing with different things at home, totally out of their normal routines, and weren’t able to easily see people they were used to seeing every day. I wanted to make a short video where they could see me, have a laugh, and start to reconnect with what is important. This video took about an hour to make.

Hello Class

I got such a great response from my student’s families, that I decided to make more videos. One of the things I did at the Burns was co-teach the Early Literacy program with master storyteller Bill Gordh. We would go to schools in Ossining and Yonkers, tell stories, and make short movies with the students. I picked one story Bill had taught me and recorded it for my students. Since my daughter is home with us, I asked her to be my prop master and help me make the video. She handed me things from off screen to make it more fun!

Why Dogs Chase Cats

I found that video was also a great way to walk students through a process I wanted them to take. I made mini-tutorials to show them how to access new material or ways of working in our Google Classroom space. We hadn’t used Google Classroom much back in school, so it was pretty new for all my students. I created a basic overview that ended up being used by all the other third grade teachers!

Google Classroom Overview

It took a couple of hours to make this video. I thought about how students would access and use the different aspects of Google Classroom. Then I recorded a video (using my phone) of me talking through how to navigate through the steps. The last thing I needed for this video was a screen capture of what a student would see on the computer when they tried it. There are many ways to do this, a paid account for WeVideo, Quicktime, or the Chrome Extension Screencastify. I recorded my screen walking through all the steps I talked about. I edited it together with a focus on condensing the material to be as clear as possible. Most of the video, you only see my computer screen. Since my voice and the screen were recorded separately, I was able to cut up my dialogue, erase what wasn’t working, and match what I was saying to what you see on screen. I added some royalty free music in the background to breathe some life into it. Finally I added some effects to make my “super secret powers” a little more super.

For all the video’s I’ve made, the process is mostly the same. It’s exactly like teaching a good lesson. You’ve got to know what you want to accomplish. You want it to be focused and definitely not more than three minutes. The best tools for the job are the ones you already know how to use. Use your phone for your camera! Use your family at home to help! Give it a try and you’ll support your students and families in a new and deeper way. Share some of your own super secret powers with your students!