Just a short anecdote from an English 9 class that gives me a boost and reminds me why it is worth our time to make the extra effort to publish online. I have written before about how I use macros and AutoText to save time when giving feedback on writing. In a recent essay, one of my students was making a chronic comma error, one that I dub The Most Common Comma Error in the World. My AutoText comment to her was, “Remember our quick lesson on the most common comma error in the world? You make it time and time again, but it’s easy to fix. Hint: the comma in that last sentence is a clue as to what mistake you’re making.” One problem. I never taught her class anything about this topic. Obviously, I thought I had.
Yet, it was not really a problem. She just Googled the phrase “The Most Common Comma Error in the World” and watched the video I had posted on this same topic years earlier. She viewed the video and made her changes.
It was a microscopic moment of flipped teaching, but it was one that reminds why I take the extra effort to share my work online:
It helps my students learn. They don’t have to have me standing next to them explaining a topic in order to have me standing next to them explaining a topic. They have a video, so students can access my explanations anytime, anywhere.
It helps me learn. I enjoy tinkering with technology and learning how to use various software. It feels more like play, but in the end, this tinkering helps me work more effectively. I can still give class instruction on something like a pesky comma error, but through video, I can literally be twenty places at once giving that explanation again to those students who need it. Those who don’t can move on.
I build a library. My YouTube channel or posts to the BCDS Grammar Ning are far from comprehensive, but over time these resources add up. I still feel like I need a central spot for all my online resources, but I am glad I’ve taken the time to post what is already out there.
Other people benefit. My little video on The Most Common Comma Error in the World will never go viral, but finding the occasional view or comment is really motivating. I love the idea that something I created can help someone both within and beyond my classroom walls.
- It keeps me honest. I try not to become one of those writing teachers that never writes. By trying to publish a new blog post every week—note: I try…I don’t always hit this goal, of course—I am practicing what I preach. By writing regularly (and I do consider making tutorial videos to be a form of writing), I am a much more empathetic and effective writing teacher. I am doing what I ask the students to do, so I believe my evaluation and feedback are more authentic and focused.
- It saves time. Yes, it takes more time up front, but I enjoy tinkering with technology and making short tutorial videos. On the back end, I save time. I can point students toward video explanations and “cover more ground” in the classroom.