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Keith Hughes - @HipHughes

Keith Hughes - @HipHughes

Keith Hughes is an educator, YouTuber, Edu Podcaster and innovator in the field of technology and education. A 16 year veteran of the Buffalo Public Schools and adjunct professor at the University of Buffalo, he has spent his career engaging students as well as fellow educators. As the producer of HipHughes History, he was recognized in 2012 by YouTube and Khan Academy with a YouTube Edu Guru Award. Keith has also appeared on the History Channel’s United Stuff of America and AHC’s America’s MostBadass. Currently Keith is employed as an Instruction Technology Coach by the Buffalo Public Schools and engages with other educators and schools across the world through professional development presentations.

Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Without a doubt the first few days of school are the most critical ones in helping to create the foundation of good human relationships with your students. Even the most skilled teacher in the pedagogical sciences of education will be less than effective if the kids don't "like" them, yes, I said, "like them". Now I am not talking about making lots of young friends but I am talking about creating a relationship with your students that is built on mutual respect and a kinship, a kinship that forms your stove of learning. So here are six tips, teachertips, to build a strong, effective stove of learning for your classroom. 

1. Please don't go over the syllabus on day one. I know, it's expected, and that is exactly the reason I strongly advise against doing it. Your first impression, is just that, your first and only first impression, you get no do-overs, so make it magnificent. I am not here to tell you what to do on day one, you can go google that, but if you see your first day as the first blind date into a forced marriage, it takes on a more powerful significance. I used to start a video project on day one, a DV quilt, where all the students were responsible for coming up with a finish to the sentence, "America is __________" and one visual. We then patched them together for a class film that we could analyze and use to springboard ourselves into a discussion of the nation. It wasn't the tech or the fancy final product that made them want to come back for more, it was the engagement. So ENGAGE them, make them want to be in the forced marriage, otherwise you may be on the road to a difficult and long, painful divorce. If you are interested in developing your own DV quilt, check out the tutorial below to start marinating. 

 

2. Use the magic word. What is the magic word? It's their name of course! I understand it's a difficult task, especially if you teach secondary, there literally could be 150 names or more. But the point is not to memorize all of their names quickly, it's to convey the message to your kids, that their name is important, it's important to you. Make it a point in the beginning of the year that you are on a mission to learn their names, I would make a bet that if I didn't know their name in two weeks I would give them a point on their next test. It was this act, this act of good faith, that I believe, earned the respect from my students. You may make mistakes, no, you will make mistakes, but make no mistake about it, one's own name is truly the most magical word in the human language. So learn them and use them to make magic in your classroom of learning. 

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Posted by on in General

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My mantra is simple, "Where attention goes, energy flows". Without a student's authentic attention, you are basically swimming with no arms or legs in a choppy ocean of learning. Therefore, garnering student's attention in the first few minutes of class as they walk in is perhaps your most important job as an educator. Setting the stage for your lesson and doing everything you can to be sure kids are engaged is not as difficult as one would imagine but it does take effort. Here are three tips to consider as you attempt to tune in students to your learning frequency.

1. Kids come to class with a million things rattling around in their brain. The hallway is a test tube of attention virsuses which seek to invade students consiousness and disrupt your class. With that in mind, the one thing you can most definately control in regards to their attention is sound, I am talking about music. Having kids walk into an empty, quiet class is an invitation to disruption. So choose music which can not only interupt their consiousness but is related to your teaching concept. On test days I would pipe in "Rocky" and as a history teacher it was easy to find music associated with concepts I was teaching; Woody Guthrie for the Great Depression, "Over There" for WWI but if you teach math, science, art, ELA, ELL or anything else, use your creativity to support your lesson. Whatever you do, don't give up one of the most powerful forms of attention engagement.....sound!

2. Your visual. In my travels as an Instructional Technology Coach is a district of 35k students, i see a lot of classrooms. In the vast majority of classrooms I visit, I see pretty much the same thing on the wall when class begins; a scientifically written objective with either text directions on a white smartboard or a visual of a content specific item; the Scientific table of elements or a picture of George Washington. Chances are students rarely pay attention to what they see on your wall when they walk in, so make them. Find powerful visuals that will not only knock their socks off but will also facilitate your learning objective. I use Skitch on my MAC ( http://mac.filehorse.com/download-skitch/ ) but with a PC you can use ( http://jing.en.lo4d.com/ ), either way, not only can you rip a quick image but you can manipulate it to give student direction. How could a kid not pay attention to this?

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Posted by on in Flipped Classroom

Confession. I am a YouTuber. ( www.youtube.com/hiphughes) Now before you stop reading, I should tell you I also am a teacher with 19 years of experience, although I prefer being called a FOLE. (Facilitator Of Learning Experiences -which of course I have a video on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmJ-_G5VR-A )

The story of how I became a YouTuber is a story of teaching. To summarize, it was 2007 and I had a YouTube account and I taught at a school in Buffalo where attendance was killing me, mostly students missing an average of 20% of classr. So I figured I should at least record my lectures so they can watch them to review for the exam. I call these early videos, my "hostage videos".  By the end of the year, my room was a DVD burning factory and I was handing discs out like it was nobodies business. As the years progressed and the digital divide began to slowly close, the shift became less about using the videos for review and more as a way of freeing up time in my class.

I should tell you something. I love kids making videos as much as I love making them. In 2002, I was fortunate by being one of the first people in a program called, City Voices, City Visions which was run out of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Buffalo. CVCV was a digital video boot camp for teachers. We learned how to make videos. Not lecture videos but Public Service Announcements, Commercials, News Broadcasts and other genres which we believed could be used to facilitate our learning objectives in the classroom.  We made videos to learn how so we could teach kids how to "write" with multimodal literacies. Wow! That sounded fancy! But my 3rd year in the classroom, my students were producing videos, videos about Govenrment and US History. And as they made those videos they were reading, researching, writing, storyboarding, filming, editing, screening and most importantly being engaged in their own learning! My problem was always time, how could I make sure I still "covered" enough of my course and gave kids the time to create?

Perhaps you have figured it out. By flipping my class and pushing my lectures out of the class (and trust me I still did review lectures) I was allowed the time to become a facilitator of learning rather than just a content explainer. I was now not the stage on the sage but the conductor of learning. Now, you may be asking, how do I find the time to make videos? And my answer is you don't have to, unless you want to. There are thousands of teachers on YouTube already doing this; so go google, "Best (insert your content area) Teachers on YouTube" and go steal; steal like a gangster and see if you can free up some time in your classroom so your kids can become creators of meaning and not just consumers of content.

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Posted by on in Classroom Management

Ding dongs

How do we deal with the ding dongs? We all know that without a solid classroom management foundation there is little chance for success in the classroom, but even with a good plan every educator is destined to find themselves face to face with a ding dong in their classroom. A ding dong is that kid, who, for whatever reason, has an itch to disrupt, be a goofball, ask silly questions or engage in what many would see as attention seeking behavior. In a perfect scenario that behavior would be eliminated with enforcing "the rules" but as we all know, none of us live in a perfect world. All of my advice assumes you have steady rules, good mojo with your kids, and most importantly, LIKE KIDS (but not in a creepy way). With that in mind, here are five strategies to deal with that everlasting ding dong.

1. Be subtle. Ding dongs want to disrupt your flow and want to be scolded, in fact, they expect it. So rule number one, is never give them the expected attention they seek. Use your body, use your face, use your tone to send a subtle message that their behavior has been recognized. Try not to stop the class mojo. If you are lecturing, try sliding in your behavior modification, "So when we study the elastic clause we can see that it empowers Congress to use the powers of the Constitution to pass all laws necessary and proper in order to calm Johnny down and give him the power to pay attention". Hopefully Johnny will get the point and your class will get a giggle. Use humor, come up with canned lines for scenarios.... phones out, ask them for their number so you can text them to put the phone away..... John Renn on Twitter has a great comeback for silly questions designed to get you off track; when Johnny asks, "Isn't it true that George Washington smoked pot" respond with, "Perhaps, but did you know that ice cream doesn't have bones?" Curse words? If they say "sh**", you say, "Please put that word back where it belong, because it's nasty in your mouth". You can come up with the rest.

2. Be daring. If you really want to convert a ding dong you need to form a human relationship with them and that probably needs to occur outside the classroom. Find ways to cross paths with the kid. Follow them in the hall and talk to yourself so they can hear you, as you mumble "I love teaching and if I could only find a way to reach Johnny'... wait for him to turn around and nod and walk away.  I used to resort to bringing my lunch to the cafeteria when a kid was being annoying, I would sit next to them and eat as I explained this would happen every time they disrupted the class, then I would lecture about history. Find out what the kid likes and make an effort; you showing up to their basketball game may have a bigger effect than any ten point action plan.

3. The pullout. Now I know many of us may do this. We take the kid into the hall and give them the riot act. Sadly, this does not work that often, and if it does, it does not last. So try pulling them out and connecting with the kid, recognize their power, their intellect, their humor and try to win them back. I used to offer them stress balls in the hall or give them permission to doodle, if it was about the content. Sometimes I would just bring them out and explain that I had to, and if we could just walk in like I yelled at them, I was cool. This in many cases made the kid an ally. 

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