When it comes to teachers and their students’ fascination with cellphones and other mobile devices, the old “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” axiom certainly applies at Memphis Catholic High School in Tennessee. Math teacher Nick Green, who also is the school’s interim principal, has taken to putting video lessons on Twitter for his students. Students say they often watch the videos while doing homework to reinforce what they learned.
“Typically, phones aren’t allowed, but they are here because they can get videos on their phones,” said Nick Green, longtime Catholic High math teacher now pulling double duty as principal.
In the background, his voice spills out of tablets and smartphones at a work table in his office where three seniors are reviewing calculus problems he scribbled out late the night before on ShowMe, a whiteboard app that lets him draw theorems with his finger on his tablet or phone screen while narrating the lesson.
He then tweets the tidy production to his built-in band of followers, all of whom are promptly notified of the tweet awaiting them from Nicholas Green @greencalculus.
So far, the buzz is glowing. “Lots of times, you learn something in class and you go home and forget,” said Sydney Stewart, 17. “It’s easy to pull up a video to help you do your homework.”
The latest 40-minute tweet, however, was met with less glee.
“We’ve already established the limit is under 10 minutes,” says a theatrically annoyed Zoe Dickey, 17. “It’s hard at home to watch math for three or four minutes. I’m already pausing it and skipping ahead,” she said. “And his voice at 11 o’clock is kinda loud …”
Green started tinkering with the app last summer before he knew he’d be taking over as principal. Turns out, it was fortuitous tinkering because Catholic principals have diocese meetings and administrative duties that get in the way of a four-day teaching schedule.
Green, whose video this fall on piecewise functions had been viewed 301 times as of Tuesday afternoon, uses Twitter to “flip” his classroom, sending students videos and links to help them grasp key concepts at home, staving off the frustration that often makes students give up on calculus.
“They come in the next day, and we will start class off with a couple of problems,” Green said.
“For calculus, I prefer the Twitter,” said Tia Brown, 17. “When you get home you kinda forget what you learned in school. By the time you get home, it’s like what did I do? You can have all the steps but if you skip some you’re not really sure.”
Continue Reading: The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)