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Teacher uses summer to video lessons for students

Mrs. Charles and 2-year-old big sister, Wendy Wren, welcome Lincoln Jase. When 6th-grade students at Huddleston Intermediate School arrived on campus for the first day of school, they weren’t greeted in the hall by their math teacher. Instead of meeting Mrs. Brittany Charles in person, she showed up for class in the form of a YouTube video.

While Mrs. Charles was busy at home taking care of her new baby boy, Lincoln Jase Charles, who was born Aug. 13, students were in class watching the lessons she taped over the summer to prepare for being gone on maternity leave.

“I probably spent five different days over summer recording the videos,” Mrs. Charles said. “I recorded 35 videos, which range from about 6 minutes to 25 minutes. Overall, it was about 7 1/2 hours of video.

“I really wanted the students to get to hear the way I explained a concept,” she continued. “I have a few ‘tricks’ I have developed over the years that seem to help my students. It also takes pressure off a sub so they don't have to worry about teaching a concept wrong.”

Mrs. Charles has dabbled in video instruction and strategy for a while.

“I have made videos in the past for my sign language club and videos I call ‘parent academies’ to help inform parents about things such as homework and online programs,” she said. “I also helped make a promotional STAAR video, ‘Ace Ace Baby,’ and have made other educational raps/videos.”

In addition, the math teacher always puts videos from YouTube on her classroom website to accompany every lesson so students and parents have a reference when working on math at home.

Principal Rich Boring says he is glad he has teachers who care so much to go the extra mile.

“The benefit of having these lessons will be that the students are still getting the instruction from a master teacher,” Mr. Boring said. “So far it’s been a good response. The students are really paying attention to the video lessons. The teachers and staff at Huddleston are amazing. All the math teachers have helped in one way or another. As a principal, this is so encouraging to see.”

A recent lesson dealt with factors and multiples. The sub helping with the class, Melissa Neshyba, showed the video while students followed along with a matching notes page created by Mrs. Charles. Following YouTube, a practice worksheet in which students were finding greatest common factors and least common multiples reinforced the idea.

“There was even a handout of a rap song to help memorize divisibility rules,” student Paris Figueroa said.

The students are enjoying the unusual teaching methods and already have an idea what their teacher is going to be like when she returns to school after maternity leave.

“This is a good way to do the lesson because it is faster and more efficient,” 6th-grader Hannah Rocheleau said. “We can already tell by the way she explains things through her videos that she is going to be enthusiastic and fun when she gets to the classroom.”

Case Edmonds and Paris Figueroa practice a concept after the video lesson. Dane DeRousse works on math. These video lessons didn’t come without some summer stress.

“The biggest challenge was the fact that I only had one poster of each notes page so there was no messing up,” Mrs. Charles said. “I had to get every video in one take. I'm a perfectionist, so I tried my best to make sure I didn't leave anything important out or say the wrong thing in each video.”

The math teacher believes all the work will be worth it when she returns.

“I am definitely anxious about not being there for my students,” she said. “But I’m a little relieved that, in a way, I still get to be there.”
 
The Huddleston math class watches a video lesson.