For the last couple of issues I covered an interview with Katie Chirhart, the iPad Lab teacher at Shreve Island Elementary School in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
As Katie’s title suggests, she’s a successful iPad teacher, and if you’ve not seen the previous two articles featured in SVN about her, then you should also know that she’s become an accomplished self-made video production and streaming expert.
Having chatted with Katie on several occasions to help assemble my initial report, it became increasingly obvious that Katie was far more driven than most people I usually deal with.
Furthermore, from the things she was talking about during our phone calls, it also became increasingly obvious that Katie was somewhat of a maverick, and her approach was getting real results.
I was suddenly not only curious about Katie, I was now curious to learn more about her school, her students and how they respond to Katie’s approach, and just how she does things in the great state of Louisiana.
To satisfy my new-found curiosity I decided that the only way I’d find the answers I was looking for was for me to take a trip down there to visit her in Shreve Island Elementary School.
I coordinated my trip to coincide with a visit to the school by JDL Horizons CEO, and the man behind the great Eduvision video solution software, Thomas Lapping. This turned out to be a really good idea, because Katie had something very special in store!
Upon our arrival at her school we were both extremly pleased to receive an exceptionally warm and friendly welcome all the way, starting the charismatic Shonee Aiello, the grades 2 to 5 Discoveries Teacher who we met in the car park.
The school isn’t new, far from it actually, however, they maintain it in excellent condition, and as we made our way from signing-in at reception to Katie’s domain in the iPad lab, both Tom and I were very pleasantly surprised to see just how nice even an older school campus could be made to look.
The first thing you see when you enter Katie’s iPad lab is a neat little video green screen set up against one wall, complete with lights, reflecting umbrellas, regular video cameras, an IPad, and a nice Roland VR3 paired to an editing lap top.
This was a seriously well though-out layout, and even though Katie confesses to being a comparative video novice, she’s either learned very quickly, or she’s a natural at video, or perhaps she’s a little of both!
No sooner had I entered the room when I was invited to share some of my video experience with the large gathering of students who had gathered there early. Even though this was sprung on me on the spur of the moment, it’s a subject that I know ‘inside-out,’ so I was soon able to begin a suitable seminar with the aid of a whiteboard and marker pen.
I was soon taken aback at the intelligent and knowledge of the students because it was exceptional by any standards, and they were all so wonderfully respectful and engaged throughout my short impromptu seminar.
As my visit progressed I continued to be amazed at how Katie was so well organised and coordinated. She had arranged a for several special visits to take place while we were there in order to say thank you to Tom Lapping of Eduvision, and to officially commission the launch of the wonderful new video systems Tom and his company had donated to Katie’s school.
The superintendent, the school district technology coordinator, and a TV News crew all eventually gathered together in Katie’s IPad lab! I was soon to witness Katie’s energy in action, and pretty soon the superintendent, and technology coordinator were all ‘mucking-in’ to help the students create a series of videos to be streamed via Eduvision on the schools morning news website.
Katie even had the superintendent happily operating a makeshift teleprompt system, aided by nothing more than a marker pen and several blank flip charts!
The Shreve Island Elementary School students all did an excellent job, and several were exceptionally keen to show off their knowledge and new-found video production and streaming skills.
Students were taking turns performing as talent, operating cameras, microphones, video mixers, and doing some exceptional editing in preparation to stream the content via a private Eduvision channel they’d created in seconds to enable them to test the broadcast.
The TV News crew loved the mass of activity which took place, and they even enlisted some of the students to help as taken in the official TV News broadcast. They also agreed with me that the questions the young students were asking only served to confirm just how exceptionally talented and intelligent they all were.
Through sheer hard work and dedication, Katie Chirhart has created an exceptional standard of student and learning at Shreve Island Elementary School. Instead of shying-away from technology and video streaming, Katie chose to embrace it and learn it just as any of her students would have to learn it.
As a result of this enlightened approach, she has not only created a centre of learning excellence in a not so affluent part of Louisiana, she has also created a generation of exceptional young students who, if they wished to, could ALL enjoy a successful career in television broadcast.
Check out this video to see information about how Shreve Island Elementary is deploying and using the revolutionary Skoolbo software.
I’m confident that any educator will find it fascinating to see the new Skoolbo software in operation by students, I’m equally sure that you’ll find it excellent to try with your own students, because it’s free, it gets real results in helping students improve their numeracy and literacy skills, and it’s a wonderful game-based learning solution that even adults will find fun to use.
Brian Sterling-Vete spent over a decade with BBC TV news, he’s a British author, Guinness World Record Holder, and film maker. He has worked extensively on both sides of camera, and even worked as a stunt performer for several years.
In addition, Brian also uses the skills he learned while he was with BBC TV News, to coach leadership and celebrities how to stay safe if they’re faced with a crisis, and a subsequent media attack.
He encourages input and comment from readers. You can reach Brian Sterling-Vete at [email protected]