Nathan on Education: Using videos in today’s education

By Joe Nathan

Both national and local talent is being used to help Minnesota students and families 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.

Community Relations Coordinator/Grant Writer Pat Tepoorten of North Branch schools wrote, “We have many teachers that use existing video resources, but only a very small number that have created video for classroom use.

One teacher has used video to record lessons for students to utilize when he is out of his classroom. As North Branch Area Pubic Schools has been forced to make cuts, administrators have come to rely on video to reach all students in an efficient manner.

Both the middle school and high school have used video to express behavior expectations for students. Some examples of those can be found at this link:

Vern Koepp, Rush City schools superintendent  wrote, “We have not done instructional online videos yet.  Something we may do in the near future.”

Casey Mahon, Manager of Communications for Elk River wrote, “We are using video more strategically to share school and district stories, as well as news.  We just finished a video

that explains our Strategic Planning process, which we shared with all parents who have e-mails on file (10,000+).  Video can be a more interesting way to communicate stories, news, features, etc.

“The district also created a video showing how Parker Elementary teachers used a “Flash Mob” to increase student interest in reading: V=TVnazay5AYw&feature=related.

Milaca math teacher Julie Cook is, according to principal Troy Anderson, “doing the flipped method of teaching with her intermediate algebra classes.  The students watch the instruction via the video clip outside of class.

The students then have more work time with the expert during class time,

Cook reports, “I have had positive reactions from most of my students. They like this method because they can watch the videos multiple times if needed and they are able to ask questions and work through the problems in class where I am able to help them.

Of course, as with all new things, I had a few students that struggled with the change, but after a few weeks most of them are now telling me how much they enjoy it. Their scores have also shown the benefits of this approach.”

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.”

Cam Hedlund of Lakes International sent several examples of videos, some created by teachers and students, and some created by a staff member. Here’s a link to videos Seth Erickson, the schools’ tech coordinator made to help 5th and 6th graders,,

Jeffrey McGonigl, Anoka-Hennepin’s assistant superintendent for high schools described videos that many teachers have prepared to help students learn.

McGonigal showed me something called “HippoCampus,” a collection of many free videos at  They are part of the Minnesota Learning Commons, a project of the Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota’s two public college/university systems,

It’s amazing how much is happening in this area.  I hope schools find ways to share their best efforts with each other.

-Joe Nathan, formerly a public school teacher, directs the Center for School Change at Macalester.  Reactions welcome, [email protected]

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