After explaining how to write a sonnet for the billionth time—one-on-one with a student at lunch, or after school, or in the evening on email—I thought about recording my explanation for students to watch and re-watch as needed. I’d made a podcast a few years earlier for an alt ed U.S. History class, but I wanted to go one step further and make YouTube videos like Khan Academy.
The video was pretty bad. I still cringe when I look at my colored pencil drawings.
But it did what I wanted: it documented my instruction so that a student who missed class that day or who needed the requirements re-explained could, with an Internet connection, get my instruction anytime, anywhere.
They could watch it on a desktop computer, on an iPad, on a cell phone, during writing time in my classroom, after school, at midnight, at lunch before class, and could watch whatever section they needed as many times as they needed to see it, stopping and starting it as needed, without me getting tired or them getting embarrassed that they didn’t understand it right away. Meanwhile, I could be preparing my lessons or chipping away at the Giant Mountain o’ Grading.
It is important to me that the videos are colorful and visually stimulating, so the videos feature brightly colored drawings and graphics. My feeble ability to draw and to use the technology has improved a little bit every summer. It’s also important that the videos never look generic or corporate. They should look similar to one another and have a cohesive aesthetic viewpoint.