Post 15 – What’s Been Going On?

Post 15 – What’s Been Going On?

Howdy folks,

For any regular readers of the blog, you’ll probably noticed that before this week, I haven’t posted in a while.  This week will have like 5 posts; things I’ve been making things (podcasts & videos) and meaning to put here but just forgot so just scheduled them all to post this week (instead of putting them all up in one day).


My general lessons haven’t been much different from last year.  I’ve been making a couple notes here and there for myself on tweaks to make for next year (change out this problem, practice this skill more before moving onto that part, etc) but not many changes outside of that.  I have decided not to try and teach geometry in Pre-Algebra anymore.  The end of the year always turns out to be a toss up between doing geometry as the last unit or statistics.  And with geometry, I’ve done one year where we focused on area and volume and another year where we focused on transformations (rotation, translation, reflection, dilations).  Last year I went with statistics and we did mean, median, mode, and range.

After looking at my curriculum with our math dept, the geometry teacher said to just nix the unit; student’s won’t be at a loss for what to do if we don’t cover those things in Pre-Algebra.  That’s going to leave more time to explore statistics and I plan on doing something where we connect with a school with different demographics than us and both of us answer questions and analyze the data.  I also want them to practice presenting the data in a way that is misleading, mainly so they can see how easy it is to do that and be on guard about statistics that are shared with them.  Still a lot to flesh out with that project.


This semester, I made one video that walked through how to program their bot a little more clearly than any other resources I’ve found online.  Not sure if that helped or not b/c some students literally just copied the code from the end of the video and weren’t able to explain it, but I guess those same students were doing that with other videos. With those previous videos though, their code usually wouldn’t work right away and they had to troubleshoot, which had some value.  Some students don’t even watch the video and just want me to walk them through it but I generally tell them to use their resources first and then if it still doesn’t work, I’ll help them troubleshoot.  I don’t know if it’s just a laziness thing (“just tell me what to do, I don’t want to watch a video”) or a learner thing where they have trouble watching a video, processing it, pausing it, doing what it says, and then continuing the video.  But that’s a good skill to learn too.

I was planning on making more instructional videos this semester but just made the one for the more complicated coding project we did in the middle of the semester.  It’s probably best that way. They’re about to get started on their final projects of the year.  I’m hoping I get to do an Advanced Robotics class next year to try some new projects w/ students who have taken the class before.


As of now, I’m still teaching Pre-Algebra and Robotics (maybe Advanced Robotics?) but I’m also going to teach a YouTuber Production class for high school.  I’m pretty excited about that.  First new class I’ve taught in 4 years and I pretty much have free reign to do whatever I want.  I think it’ll be a lot of fun as I’ve never taught any sort of film class (or high school class).  I’m trying to think through the balance of structure and freedom in the class being that everyone will be making such different content.  In reality, you can be a successful YouTuber with just your iPhone but I’m going to force them to make a variety of content using different type of footage (iPhone, screencasts, DSLR, etc).  While they can make videos about whatever they want, I plan on having a tutorial project, a vlog project, a Q&A project, a review project, etc.  I plan on making them do stuff with text and keyframes, work on balancing music and audio levels, tagging their videos…man, just writing this stuff out gets me excited to make a rubric!


Mandarin is going well!  I’ve been listening to a podcast called Coffee Break Chinese to work on my listening skills b/c they’re pretty terrible once people start saying more than one phrase, I’m like ‘whoa whoa whoa!’ and then start repeating the whole thing they said out loud slowly to myself and translating.  It’s pretty inefficient but I have no choice until I just start listening and understanding w/out directly translating in my head.  I may make another video at the end of the semester to showcase what I’ve learned.


Up until last week I had been able to go to class 3-5x a week.  Last week I got sick and then went on Friday for open mats and pulled a muscle in my ribs like 15 minutes in.  I’ve been out this week as well but plan on going just to watch tomorrow and see what they’ve been working on.  Legit feeling of falling behind.  I’ve been running in the mornings instead.  Muscle still hurts when I contract my abs so hoping it heals up quick.  Was really excited to put out the podcast this week on why I started training and what I’ve learned about education as a result of it.


I’ve been trying to think through how I want to focus my efforts on the content I create.  Here’s where I’m at:

Regarding YouTube, I want to create content that serves as a fun creative outlet for me, which in turn ends up being all over the place.  In that past, I had a ton of footage from my classroom (math, robotics, other stuff we did as a school) but this year I sort of stopped doing that.  Mainly because most of my lessons were fairly similar and I had already filmed most of the ‘all-star’ lessons that I felt others could benefit from.  I didn’t make a video on Project Week either b/c I really love how last years turned out and this year it’d pretty much look the same (same goes with the big retreat we went on as a school).

Most of my success on YouTube has been with the filmmaking tutorial videos and I do enjoy making those but sometimes feel there’s already tons of tutorials on how to do everything so is my little explanation really needed?

My content so far this year in 2018 have been the following:

So most of my efforts have been on the podcast and lately, the book club videos.  The book reviews are fun and I’m wondering if the livestream is the way to go; more people can actually contribute to the conversation and it’s fun to be a part of a live discussion, but not many people show up (five came last time, two actually conversed a bit), and then no one is going to go back and watch a livestream (myself included).

My Livestream Setup

I did think about maybe doing a separate channel called ‘Books and Beef Jerky’ where I read and review two books (one fiction, one non-fiction) and try a new beef jerky…or maybe two new beef jerkies since I’m reading two books?  I guess it doesn’t have to be a separate channel.  But if I do 3 separate videos at the beginning of the month (one video per book as well as a separate video saying what books I’m going to read that month) then it just seems like I’m this big reading channel and that’s not really true either.  I guess I don’t have to do a separate video about what I’m reading next, just say it at the end of each of the book reviews.  Or maybe just do one livestream where I discuss both books, 30 minutes each, unless the book is amazing and warrants it’s own review (like ‘Mans Search For Meaning’).

Ok, I’ll try an hour livestream this upcoming month to talk about Ready Player One and When.  I wish I could just post a comment on my YouTube stream saying what the books will be for next month because if I end up just saying it at the end of the livestream, few folks will really see it.  Hm…maybe just a short 1 minute video of what the next books will be.

Ok that was a lot on books, I’m sort of just thinking out loud.

Other non-book video ideas I have:
  • Filmmaking tutorial – How to Livestream with a Canon T3i
  • Vlog – 3 Must Try Austin Restaurants (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Creative – How To Win The Morning; How To Win The Day
  • Creative – 6 Months of Jiu Jitsu…What Have I Learned?
  • Vlog – Learning Mandarin | 1 Year Later
  • Vlog – Switzerland (this summer)
  • Misc – New Channel Trailer
  • Teaching – Teaching YouTube 101 For The First Time
And as far as podcast:

Kelley’s Question Time In Science – I’ve only heard about it from students but one of our science teachers Kelley has ‘question time!’ at the beginning of class once a week in science class where students can ask any science question and they explore it for a bit.  I wonder how (& if) she structures it and why she does it.

Mark Rogers’ Looping – I was planning on reaching out to a friend that last time I checked, was doing this ‘looping’ experiment where he’s planning on sticking with a group a kids from K-12…like the same kids all the way through.  He tweeted me out of nowhere and wanted to catch up and talk about ideas so that was convenient.  I don’t even know if he knows I have a podcast.

Inside The Mind of a Teacher – I want to do a ‘inside the mind of a teacher’ kind of podcast where I record the class discussion and then dissect it with the teacher (or by myself) on why the teacher did what they did, challenges that came up, what went to plan and what had to change, what they wish they did differently, etc.  I think that could be fun.

Ok, that felt good to get that all out there!  All this has just been swimming in my head for a little over a month.  Probably why I should blog more often again.

By Thom H Gibson

I help middle school STEM teachers create meaningful & memorable experiences for their students. Teacher, podcaster, YouTuber. Two-time teacher of the year

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