Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
Velvet ropes, exclusive access, backstage passes… they’re all a part of being a VIP. But there’s one group of people who don’t often get the VIP treatment they so deserve.
That’s why at Edpuzzle, we wanted to show a little love for our VIT’s (Very Important Teachers)!
To kick off our VIT interview series, this month we spoke with Martin Palermo, a chemistry teacher at William Floyd High School in New York, who’s also pursuing his PhD in Science Education at Stony Brook University.
He’s been with Edpuzzle right from the start. Read on to find out more about Mr. Palermo plus his tips for using Edpuzzle to make your teaching life easier!
How did you first find out about Edpuzzle?
I started flipping my classroom in 2011-12 and was looking for a way to engage students in the video content and also collect data about where they were having difficulties prior to class, so I could use that information to drive class instruction. After a lot of searching during the 2013-14 school year, I stumbled across the Edpuzzle platform and started using it right away. It was exactly what I was looking for to complete my flipped classroom and formatively assess my students.
What was one of your most successful video lessons and what made it a hit?
One of the most successful videos was a joint collaboration with Edpuzzle where we took a difficult concept (voltaic cells) and incorporated animations into the video to help demonstrate how batteries work. The added visuals helped my students better conceptualize the lesson because they could visualize how electricity was produced.
What are some of the challenges you face in the classroom that Edpuzzle helps you solve?
The biggest challenge I face in my chemistry classroom is how to quickly assess where students are in the learning process and identify areas where they are struggling. Embedding questions in my Edpuzzle videos provides a quick way to look at each student individually so that I can provide them with the tools they need to further their understanding.
How would your students describe you?
Energetic, passionate, and funny.
What was your proudest moment as a teacher?
My proudest moment as a teacher was when I received a message from a former student who had just graduated college stating that I was the reason they decided to go to college and that they attributed their success to the motivation I gave them way back in 10th grade when they felt like the world had given up on them. Sometimes the simplest conversations can have the greatest impacts.
And your most embarrassing teaching moment?
My most embarrassing teaching moment in recent years occurred last year where I was grossly mispronouncing a student's name for the first month of school and they were too shy to correct me. This year I used Edpuzzle’s new audio feature to have students introduce themselves and pronounce their names so I will never be in that situation again. It also provided a great opportunity for students to share other important information about themselves.
What Edpuzzle tips can you share with other teachers that will make their lives easier?
The best advice I can give to other teachers that are using Edpuzzle is if you are creating your own videos, keep them short and to the point. Be mindful of how many questions you ask and where you are asking them.
Too many questions in a video interrupts the flow, and having all the questions at the end limits students' engagement in the lesson. If you are using someone else’s video, make sure you watch the video prior to assigning it to your students to make sure it is providing the exact content that you want.
What would you say to teachers who may be tech-phobic, or on the other end of the spectrum, overwhelmed by all of the edtech options?
My advice for teachers who are either hesitant about technology or overwhelmed by all of the edtech options out there is remember to keep things simple and change things up when you can. Don’t be afraid to try something new in your classroom but keep in mind that technology should (1) be used to enhance your lessons, (2) help manage your workload, and (3) increase your ability to gather information about student understanding.
You also spend your time surfing, playing drums in a band, and volunteering as a firefighter and rescue diver. True or false?
True. Living on an island has its perks :)
What's one thing we should have asked you that wasn't on the list?
An important question is when do I utilize video content in my flipped classroom?
Science class is all about discovery and investigation. I don’t frontload the video instruction in my class, rather I have students investigate phenomena and have discussions about what is happening first. Then I assign video content to help them with their explanations of the phenomena by introducing concepts and scientific vocabulary, keeping the classroom student-centered and inquiry driven.