Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
Teacher Cassie Schmidt tells us how she flipped her Math Workshop by turning her mini-lessons into video lessons. Read on to learn her steps and best practices for using Edpuzzle with elementary math.
Math is a challenging subject for many students, including fourth-graders. They’ve got a tough curriculum filled with topics like making equivalent fractions, factors and multiples, and the infamous long division.
On top of that, not all students walk into 4th grade performing exactly on grade level. Some are years behind and others are ready to move on before you can get out the first word.
Teachers feel pressured to keep all students at the same point in the curriculum, even though this can leave so many in the dust. That stress is all too familiar and I didn't want to feel it anymore.
I was determined to help my students be successful in math. This led me to Edpuzzle and it helped change everything.
What I Hoped to Achieve with Edpuzzle
Normally, I would do mini-lessons with students gathered on the carpet with their Math Logs. If I was going to shift to having students working independently at their seats, I wanted to be certain it still had the same instructional value.
Mini-lessons are a time for students to gain the most from their teacher. It’s 10-15 minutes of precious time. Making my own videos would help keep instruction personal and engaging. I didn’t want to lose connection with my students by changing my delivery. No matter what medium, students still want their actual teachers to teach them.
I didn’t want to completely flip my student’s worlds upside down either, so utilizing our district’s curriculum was important for me to keep in mind. My class was familiar with the curriculum’s great resources, so staying faithful to it was a must.
Finally, I wanted to increase student participation in mini-lessons. Some students prefer to hide during whole-class lessons by not answering questions or writing down examples in their Math Logs. I needed to find a way to make them more active participants.
How to Make Math Mini-Lessons
My #1 tool is a phone holder with an arm that I have clamped to my desk. It allows me to effortlessly set up the workspace for my recordings top-down, allowing my students to see what I am writing while I teach. I teach the lesson’s objective by providing a variety of modeled examples from our curriculum.
You can also make screen-recording videos or digital whiteboards videos with Explain Everything. Both applications let you easily upload your video directly to Edpuzzle.
I am mindful to include verbal cues to students such as “I want you to try this next one on your own” and use consistent language in my video instruction and support. I watch my time too. I’ve found the best video length is 5-10 minutes.
- Upload to Edpuzzle
I typically upload my videos to my YouTube account. YouTube is great for my video storage, and it’s easy to paste the video link into the Edpuzzle search bar to start editing. You can also upload a video from your computer or Google Drive.
Once in Edpuzzle, I watch my video and add notes and questions for my students. Notes remind students to have materials ready before they start the lesson and questions allow me to track their progress. I usually have them watch one or two examples all the way through before asking them to try on their own, with the enforced expectation that they write what I am writing in their Math Logs the entire time.
When I reach the point in my video where students should be ready to try completing problems on their own, I insert questions and have students type their answer before they can continue on with the video to see me solve it. This prevents the students who go into hiding during typical lessons from doing so. They have to try the questions before moving on.
This is especially useful when I am teaching more challenging topics like long division. I am able to stop students at every step and require them to take the time to evaluate their work before they continue to the next step.
It would be impractical for a teacher to examine every students’ work during a live lesson, but Edpuzzle makes it easy to have every student check their work before they move on. Better yet, having students check their work after each step boosts their confidence and perseverance.
- Present on Canvas
My school district uses Canvas. When I am ready to share my Edpuzzle assignment with students, I post a link on our math page. I also make sure that the “Prevent Skipping” button has been selected and closed captions are on as well!
After completing the assignment, students have access to a short (3 questions on average) Google Form formative assessment to apply their learning. This formative assessment, along with the video responses from Edpuzzle, shows me their understanding after they’ve completed their mini-lesson.
How This Looks In My Seated Math Workshop
After our daily morning meeting, I spend about 5 minutes previewing the day’s math lesson and focus on making connections with previous lessons. Students then go to their seats and log onto Canvas.
I circle the room to make sure students are getting started right away, using headphones, and have all the needed materials. While students are working through the lesson, I check-in first with those who I know will need more support with the content. I watch them work in their Math Logs and ask them scaffolding questions. If students need more help, they raise their hands and ask me questions.
As responses on Edpuzzle and my Google Form formative assessment trickle in, I look through to see who needs more guidance. It is important to work with these students before they get too deep into their independent practice activities.
These students are invited to my small group table. There we figure out what they’re not getting and work together to address the misconception. Students can get in the moment feedback.
After that, students can go back to their independent work. I continue my Math Workshop by working with the specific small groups of students I have planned out for the day. The human connection is still ever-present in my Math Workshop.
As a Result
Morale - When I began using Edpuzzle, the first thing I noticed was the morale in my classroom regarding math. Students are happier and feel like math is less daunting! I see silent cheers and whispers of “Yes!” when students get an answer right in the video.
Self-pacing (and loving it!) - Many students feel watching the videos is shorter than a whole-class lesson (I try to keep them no longer than 10 minutes), which means they can get to math activities they really enjoy more quickly. Additionally, my students who benefit from working at a slower pace are less stressed too.
More participation - With Edpuzzle lessons, students are writing everything in their Math Log and putting forth more effort. The discussion about writing being a part of learning math has sunk in even more and Math Logs fill up!
Fewer misconceptions - As I teach with Edpuzzle, the misunderstandings students have are minor compared to the ones I was addressing before. Students aren’t experiencing as many challenges with tricky concepts. This has allowed both students and me to spend less time on reteaching activities and more on enrichment.
Higher test scores - Several students that were averaging Cs in math with traditional teaching are now getting As and Bs on end-of-chapter tests, and failing grades are at an all-time low.
In the second-quarter of the 2019-2020 school year, I taught half with traditional mini-lessons and half with Edpuzzle lessons, and the average math grade was 75.5%. Whereas in the third quarter (all Edpuzzle instruction), the average math grade was 84%.
Students scored an average of 72% (including retakes) on an addition and subtraction of whole numbers test with traditional mini-lessons. In comparison, with Edpuzzle lessons, students scored an average of 90% on multiplying two-digit by two-digit numbers and an average of 85% on long division. Both averages including retakes!
The best part of those test grades? The increase in my students’ confidence, the smiles on their faces, and the motivation in their hearts.
Math Workshop during Remote Learning
What I have learned with Edpuzzle has been priceless. I am currently teaching virtually full-time and am much more confident because of my understanding of creating impactful video-based instruction.
I still use Edpuzzle to meet my student’s math needs. My district adopted a video based math curriculum for this school year. However, students still have needs that require different types of differentiation.
I create additional lesson support and review videos (from channels like Khan Academy) with Edpuzzle to meet these needs in a virtual teaching environment. I also allow students to work at their own pace, which means my Edpuzzle lessons are ready when they are.
These lessons can also go beyond the math environment. I’ve started dipping into using Edpuzzle and Canvas for grammar lessons. I plan to make a full range of grammar modules for my students to use this school year as well as continue to further support my students in math.