Coming Soon to a Classroom Near You!

Summer is in full swing! That means vacation, catching up on rest, and summer blockbusters. This year’s crop of films range from franchise sequels, like Jurassic Park and Terminator, to original films, like the family friendly Inside Out, to biographical documentaries like Straight Outta Compton. These films serve as a temporary reprieve from our daily life and give us the opportunity to be immersed in a story other than our own. The sights and sounds transport us to places near, far, and imagined. They sometimes make us feel that the impossible is possible.

The proliferation of smartphones and cameras has placed the power of the film into the hands of millions of people. In the modern age, anyone has the opportunity to capture and share a story of their own. Teachers have also jumped into the video trend. Many have found effective way to integrate film into their practice to enhance student learning.

Some teachers have become “producers” and create videos used to support the learning of content. Others have taken on the role of the “director” and capture their students at work using the footage to personally reflect on the effectiveness of the lesson. A growing number are “starring” in videos to share their lessons and practice with educators around the world. At BetterLesson, we have had the privilege to see how educators across the country are using video to improve educational outcomes for their students.

BetterLesson has done some filming of our own. Over the past two years, we’ve collaborated with hundred of teachers across the country and produced videos that showcase the various ways teachers leverage videos in their instructional practice. These strategies are then viewed and implemented by teachers participating in BetterLesson’s professional learning offering, TeachCycle. TeachCycle provides teachers with the opportunity learn new strategies and quickly try them out in their classrooms to see what works (or doesn’t) for their students. Strategies in video format allow participants a window into the practice of a fellow educator. The sight, sounds and emotions of the classroom come to life, providing a vivid model for what a strategy in action actually looks like.

While the videos we make don’t expose the genome sequence needed to bring dinosaurs to life or provide the trick to time travel, they may make a strategy that once seemed out of reach now within the realm of possibility.