• Matter Matters!

The more of their senses we involve, the better our chances of reaching every student. The goal is for that light bulb to come on when they understand! iTunes U is a great resource for this kind of support for teachers.


Bentonville School District’s Kathy Hancock has created three middle school science series for iTunes U:  Simple Solutions with Simple Machines, Awesome Aspects of Energy, and Matter Matters!  She recently explained how and why she created them.

What is your instructional approach in these video lessons?

I follow an authentic lesson plan to teach a concept. The videos start with a lesson from Miss Whistle, which is interlaced with visuals. Then we see the students doing everyday activities and remembering what they learned at school. They question each other, form hypotheses and find solutions by applying what they know about science to situations in their world. In each of my series I present the material in several ways so that students can absorb the information in the way they learn – with music, visuals, movement, hands-on activities, etc. I am a big believer in teaching to Multiple Intelligences.  Fifth and sixth graders are the target group, but I believe students who are slightly older or younger would also benefit.

What’s your background in education? What else should we know about you professionally?

I am starting my 19th year of teaching this year. I have taught in three states: Texas, New Mexico and Arkansas. My experience includes 8 years of special education in grades pre-K through 6th, 1 year of gifted education and 9 years as an elementary school tech coordinator and computer technology teacher.  I hosted an after-school podcast club for 4th and 5th graders. They used music, videos, stills and type to make announcements for the school’s communication kiosk. Now I teach middle school literacy in a resource setting. Last year I received a 21st Century grant for a laptop lab for my class so we have the tools we need to do project based learning.

What might people be interested to know about the “behind the scenes” creation of your work?

We live in a beautiful area and I tried to showcase that in the videos, using sites around Bentonville and Bella Vista as the setting. Working with the students away from the school is a wonderful way to see them interact and be themselves. The Whiz Kids put hours of work into learning their scripts. They would even tell me, “I would never say that” if they thought my script sounded like an adult talking. Every year I use students from my school. Their parents are really generous with their time and support the podcast projects. It takes several days of their busy summer to rehearse and film.

Miss Whistle has always been a great addition to our movies. She is actually my daughter, Kristin Ringe, and is a counselor/instructor at the University of North Texas. This year, my other daughter, Gwendolyn Earnhart, created a rap for the series. She is a music teacher in Texas. My husband, John, is an immense help with making props and setting up scenes for me. This is a real group effort!

What special tools have you used to create this year’s videos and how do you think they add value to the lessons?

I love the Apple programs (iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, Garageband, and iTunes), and used all of them in the creation of the videos. These programs are user-friendly and made the editing go smoothly.  This year, I used the awesome program Sparkol VideoScribe  for the animations. I think they added an up-to-date touch that students should enjoy. The movies were recorded on a basic FlipHD camcorder and the stills were taken with an Olympus digital camera. Some of my photos are used with permission from photographers I found on Flickr Creative Commons.

How have you used your own iTunes U materials in your own instruction or with your own school?

I have used the videos during our tutoring/intervention time to reinforce what my Special Education students are learning in their general education science class. The science teachers in my school are using the videos as a part of their lessons. The students love that they can see their friends on screen.

What value do you think your iTunes U content has for educators?

I think viewing a video clip in addition to hearing and seeing a classroom lesson adds another opportunity for a student to comprehend the material being shared. The more of their senses we involve, the better our chances of reaching every student. The goal is for that light bulb to come on when they understand! iTunes U is a great resource for this kind of support for teachers.