Boulder Valley School District

Teacher-produced videos add spark to home learning

teacher producing a video lesson
Carolyn Nohe

When the pandemic hit last Spring, teachers were faced with a heart-wrenching reality. As if not seeing their students in-person every day wasn’t hard enough, they would also have to re-invent their teaching style to an online environment. How were they going to engage their students without physically being with them? How could they make learning captivating and fun over a computer? 

After giving everything they had just to finish out the school year, staff were able to come up for air during the summer to brainstorm creative strategies. With support from the district, Principal Nick Vanderpol of Foothill Elementary led a team of 35 teachers throughout the district to deal with this unforeseen challenge. 

“We came together and we said, why don’t we take some lessons and create them and record them so that if we do that over the summertime they’re available and they're ready in an asynchronous way for kids and families in the fall,” said Principal Vanderpol.

Staff worked throughout the summer to create thousands of video lessons to be used in the fall and into the future. From those, 300 were created in Spanish.

“It’s about making it enjoyable and making sure they [the students] will retain that knowledge, said Laura Aranda, Pioneer Elementary School Teacher.

The video curriculum includes math, phonics Fundations lessons, and interactive read-alouds. Each lesson provides engaging elements such as talking puppets, hands-on tutorials and flashy graphics.

“We were encouraged to channel our inner Mr. Rogers,” said Emily Skodrus, High Peaks Elementary School Teacher. “Simple, but very engaging.”

The video production skills of Lynn Gershman, Teacher Librarian at Broomfield Heights Middle School, made for seamless and professional high-quality videos.

Gershman stated, “As an instructional technologist, I see this pandemic as a game changer for using instructional technology and kind of changing the way the business of education is run, and this is a pretty solid first step.” 

The staff involved in this project hope these videos will support their colleagues during the pandemic and beyond. Each video is well-thought out and provides a tangible resource that can be accessed at any time.

“These videos help us accomplish being on the same page, using the curriculum that we know is research-based and works for our kiddos, and really providing them quality lessons,” said Amanda Jones, Monarch PK-8 Teacher.

The Phase 2+ Working Group recommended having these teachers continue to create more videos which will continue to give students engaging home video lessons and be a great support for teacher.


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