The Students Have Spoken

Gaby Charmont Blog

EdCamp Cape Cod was buzzing with energy and full of educators, administrators, and students alike. There was a beautiful breakfast spread and it was a great space where people began introducing themselves. I was quite overwhelmed but not quite out of place. I was among students younger than me but mainly teachers and administrators with many more years of experience than my mere few months of interning at 30hands.

A huge grid was hung on the wall that organized the many classrooms available, their capacity, and time slots to plan your very unique day. Anyone could post a topic they were interested in within any of these slots. Soon after arrival, the slots were filling up and teachers were chatting about which topics they wanted to join in on the conversation and learn about tips and tools for use in their classrooms.

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I found that I knew a great deal about a bunch of the topics and that I could have something to say in those sessions. I was relieved to know that I would have some important insights but also that I could learn so much from those putting the theories I’ve learned about into practice.

One of the topics stood out to me, it was “We Don’t Need No Education! A Student Panel Q&A”. It had been pinned up by a few high schoolers who wanted to dedicate their time to the benefit of all the teachers who gathered in their room during the EdCamp event. They were there for the teachers to learn from, to ask questions they may not their own students, and to better guide their own classroom with their learners in mind.

I was interested in going to this session, after all, these kids appreciated Pink Floyd so it couldn’t be bad. Also, I didn’t graduate high school all too long ago and things were not so tech based and innovative, which I really disliked. I was excited to see they were answering some questions very honestly to finally make a change in the typical classroom structures.

“Do you do the textbook reading?”

A unanimous no. I didn’t find that shocking, as I couldn’t struggle through those lengthy and boring textbooks either. With so many classes and extracurriculars, high school students simply don’t have the brainpower at the end of the day!

But they did do something to supplement, they watched video lessons online. There were enough niche content creators that excitingly and accurately portrayed the various subjects lessons in video form that the students could find to replace the comparatively dull reading. A few teachers asked for examples for their various classrooms and subject matter, and the students had answers for them on who they would watch on Youtube.

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And would they watch videos their teachers created? Absolutely. Wouldn’t that be better than assigning all these textbook readings that students dread so much that they don’t end up doing it? It does take time to build up a repertoire of video lessons. But that’s also the beauty of being able to access Youtube and find videos and lessons that have already been made and will likely fit the subject material…after all, at least some of your student’s already have found them.

It is not that surprising that students would prefer learning through exciting content to reading a dry, lengthy textbook. Also, through assigning homework in the form of the lesson, class time can be fully devoted to practice and experiment. Summing up a full class lesson into a video shorter than 10 minutes is exciting for both the student and the teacher. The student can take notes on their own time and will be much more excited for a class that isn’t powerpoint presentation and lecturing all the time. Teachers often find their students to be much more engaged and that the learning outcomes are greater when using a flipped classroom model for their classroom.

Even if a total flipped classroom may not be feasible, innovate the typical homework assignments. Try to limit long readings and assign video lessons instead, be it yours or some good content from Youtube or another source. Know that students are much more likely to do these assignments and will come to class more prepared!

As far as an EdCamp goes, I would recommend anyone in the education field to go and learn about the new and innovative things going on within education. The time spent there flew and it was a great way to learn about bettering a student’s experience and outcome within school. Everyone had experiences to add and talk about which I think is going to be incredibly valuable to student success throughout college and into the real world.  

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