Middletown City Schools are well known for innovation.
The New York district’s forward-thinking approach and use of technology such as Screencastify has led to membership into the elite group of the "League of Innovative Schools", which is a national network that connects and supports the most forward-thinking leaders in education. Middletown is also nationally recognized as a leader in personalized learning instruction by Education Elements.
Michelle Hearn, who is a technology instructional coach in Middletown City School District in New York with about a half dozen schools that serve more than 7,500 students, is also a strong believer of utilizing tech in the classroom.
She started her career as a 7th-grade social studies teacher in 2014, where she first flipped her classroom with video. In her current position, she works directly with teachers and students teaching them how to effectively use instructional technology in the classroom.
The district’s technology program engages administrators, teachers and students in critical thinking, communication and collaboration to help improve student academic achievement with emerging technologies.
🏫 District: Middletown City School District in New York
🖥 Innovative approach: Middletown's usage of tech like Screencastify has earned it a spot in the "League of Innovative Schools".
✍️ Quote worthy: “[Video] really gives them time and space to make mistakes without people watching them. And then they can re-record and perfect whatever it is that they're working on and really try to master that skill.” - Michelle Hearn, technology instructional coach
📱 More about Middletown: middletowncityschools.org/
Providing the right tools to empower creators
Michelle has utilized Screencastify since 2016, and the district has relied more on the video creation suite as it has become 1:1 and moved away completely from physical textbooks.
Even after the tumultuous 2020-2021 school year, Middletown teachers leverage Screencastify to record their lessons and add in questions with tools like Interactive Questions and then assign that as like a classwork or a part of a choice board. From there, she said they create small groups with their kids to work on enrichment or intervention activities.
“We used Screencastify a lot before the pandemic and we still do now,” she said. “It’s going to stay strong with teachers recording their lessons, and then delivering it to the students that way instead of just like the original, old-style ‘chalk and talk.’ ”
Michelle said that her school seeks to empower students to be able to flex their creativity in what has become a society of innovators. And beyond the classroom, giving students the ability to create, think and innovate now will provide huge value in where they go with their careers in the future.
“It ultimately is going to build the confidence of those students,” she added. “And the students that are already comfortable in front of the camera, it allows them to create and shine and really take everything that they're learning to the next level.”
And with practice comes perfection and subject matter mastery.
“It really gives them time and space to make mistakes without people watching them. And then they can re-record and perfect whatever it is that they're working on and really try to master that skill.”
Related: Listen below to hear more from Michelle Hearn about how to give students a choice in learning with tech!
Student choice and student assessment
Another reason for the district’s prioritization of video is the value in providing on-demand access to the content because students learn at different paces and in different ways.
“We prioritize personalized learning, and part of our quest is to have the students have that content at their beck and call and have them refer back to it to listen at their own pace,” she said.
She added that choice is a huge factor when assessing students and they all are going to show their mastery or how much that they learned about that topic differently. So by giving the students a choice, it allows them to discover the best way to show their teachers what they’ve learned and how they’ve learned it.
“I've had experience where some kids just want to talk to me, and I can sit there and have a five or six minute conversation with them. And I know that they've mastered that skill. And some kids want to make a video to show me what they know.”
She added that Screencastify’s Interactive Questions add a new dimension for evaluating student learning and tracking the data.
“Interactive Questions are awesome because it gives real time data for teachers and allows students to be more engaged in the video itself. Having Interactive Questions and the data all in one place is huge.
Related video: Michelle discusses how video empowers creation in the webinar below!
Video for teacher collaboration
Video also plays a role in giving teachers the space they need to discuss, share and create as they are teaching most of the school day and their prep periods aren’t aligned. It is a way to give them the time to have that meaningful discourse with each other without needing to be in the same room or available at the same time.
“We found that things and ideas spread best organically, so what we'll do is we'll work with a small group of pilot teachers, and those teachers will have success with video creation,” she said. “And then all of a sudden, it's ‘boom,’ there's this movement that's happened, and everyone is talking about it. And once that spark happens, that's when the district steps in with professional development.”
Michelle added that the simplicity of Screencastify gave teachers and students new ways to express themselves and to improve their teaching and learning.
Learn more about how you can bring Screencastify to your school or district here!