Sharing learning with the world- one “live” video at a time!
Most of us remember the experiences we had attending school, and so many people think they have a good idea about what is going on in schools during the day now. However, so much has changed from my school days twenty or so years ago, like the Internet, personal computing devices, social networks, direct access to experts, culture shifts, and more. Even working in schools now full-time, there are so many learning experiences happening that I, as an instructional coach, don’t see in classrooms, in the lunchroom, in the library, and on the playground. What if we could give people a window into the every day moments happening in our schools each day?
Scrolling through my professional learning network on Twitter, I saw “Live from Frost Elementary School” videos. These videos give an inside look at what is going on through live images and information from students, teachers, and administrators. I was instantly hooked! Robert Frost Elementary School in Mount Prospect, Illinois was leading the way through student interviews — videos of students doing a multitude of things in different school environments, and even views from inside the principal’s office showing a typical morning routine. When does the outside world ever get to see these things?
On the same day I viewed the first Live from Frost video, I was excitedly inspired to jump into action and create our own London Live! videos from London Middle School in Wheeling, Illinois. We shot our first video in one take from a garden right outside the school. The students were instantly excited and up for the task. They were asked to share something important they had learned that day, and I was blown away at the sincerity and depth of their responses. I have consistently been delighted and surprised at the reactions of students and staff as we share our learning almost daily for the rest of the school year. Recently, I interviewed the instructional coach at Robert Frost, Alison Friedman, to see if her students were having the same kind of stellar responses.
How did you originally come up with the idea for Live from Frost?
Alison: The idea came from two places…The first was from the book #Hacking Leadership by Joe Sanfelippo and the other from The Innovator’s Mindset by George Corous. Both (in their own ways) emphasize the importance of telling your school’s story, and the best way to do it is by tweeting out live videos. I had been asking my principal, Jeff Brusso, to be doing these, and once we attended the Innovator’s Mindset conference, he realized how important it is to share our story and what we are doing in the school with the anyone who would listen and watch. And thus, #livefromfrost was born.
Tracy: I had been entertaining the idea of something similar for a few years, and it took seeing someone else do it well to get me kick-started. Thanks George Corous, Ali, and Frost Elementary School!
What was your process to get the live videos up and running? Who else did you work with at your school?
Alison: I really just needed the buy in from my principal, and once he was on board, others quickly jumped on too realizing how great the feedback was and how fun it was to share what amazing things our students were doing and learning in our school.
Tracy: The administration team at London was also super supportive, and they even created some of their own London Live! videos during our next staff development day, showing all of the incredible things our staff was doing during our technology share fair. The responses from other schools in School District 21 made such an impact on us!
How do you come up with questions or topics for the live sessions?
Alison: We didn’t really come up with ideas or themes. If we happened to be in the classroom and wanted to learn more about what they were doing, #livefromfrost would begin. Or an interaction with a student would spark a #livefromfrost. It was all very natural and very situational.
Tracy: At London we have almost always asked our middle school students to tell us about something exciting they learned that day and why it was important. One time, we responded to a Live from Frost video asking for more information on the poet our school was named after, and a couple of 6th grade students did a little research and promptly replied with a London Live response video. Collaboration among our schools is super motivated for our students!
Is there a video session that stands out for you?
Alison: For me, the session where I am interviewing 4th grade student Nissa and her enthusiasm when it comes to explaining what she’s excited about learning about fossil fuels really sticks out to me because the amount of views and likes we received from that session showed me the power of live video and Twitter, and that what we are doing has impact on others.
Tracy: So many of the live videos stand out because of the enthusiasm of the students and how they almost always beam with pride after completing the live taping. I am really moved by the video at the top of this page because of his sincerity in wanting an amazing future for himself — you can see that he is really envisioning it!
What have the results been for students, teachers, parents, and others?
Alison: All the feedback given has been extremely positive. People are excited to learn what is happening in and around our building and a few of the other schools have even caught on to what we are doing!
Tracy: News about what we were doing spread wildly around London. I heard students buzzing about it when walking around the school and in classrooms. We had a number of students follow our London account (@ccsd21london) and I heard some students ask if they can be featured, and this all happened the very next day after posting our first video. You could immediately tell students were watching them — and learning more in the process!
Are there any challenges?
Alison: The challenges are just making sure the students are comfortable with speaking, and finding a way/time to interview them so that it doesn’t interrupt the learning environment.
Tracy: Finding time each day and I know the results are worth it. Sometimes getting staff to be get on camera live is a little more challenging. The students are naturals!
Where would you like to go next?
Alison: We plan on continuing the idea of #livefromfrost and eventually have students do the interviewing with one another and not just the leadership team and teachers.
Tracy: I love Alison’s idea of getting students to do the planning, interviewing, and taping. Also, it would be great to get more staff members on camera and expand our audience so our student voices have more reach.
Any advice for others looking to start this in their schools or businesses?
Alison: Don’t be afraid. Just go ahead and try it. Definitely pre-record then post (it’s easier than really being “live”).
Tracy: It’s both much easier and more powerful than it sounds. It really gives an insider view to people outside the school. It’s a true celebration of learning and the good things happening in education — straight from the mouths of students!
What else would you like to add?
Alison: It’s been a great experience and I hope other schools in the district join in so we can learn from everyone!
Tracy: London Live turned out to be a highlight of last school year, having very positive effects on our school culture. I know we have a lot of room to grow. I now see the importance of telling our school stories through live videos.
Going live from schools, business, homes, or any other location can develop connections, celebrate successes, and tell the stories of places to wide audiences. Stories can be shared on any social media and can easily reach your intended audiences. We started with Twitter and may expand to Facebook next year. For students, sharing their learning with authentic audiences outside of the classroom is very engaging and empowering, and is a wonderful way to provide immediate evidence of learning for teachers. Please connect with @ccsd21london and @ccsd21frost— we would love to learn with you!