Guest post by Tiana Kadkhoda
Milo of Croton, the early Olympian, was renowned for his legendary strength. Every day Milo would carry a calf on his back up a large mountain. As the calf matured into a full-grown bull, so did Milo’s strength. Mathtrain.tv, a website that encourages kids to learn through teaching, was my calf. Starting with the first video I made while in sixth grade, as mathtrain.tv developed, I thrived.
Can’t see the video? Watch it on Mathtrain.tv
Any sixth grader will tell you that math can be an intimidating subject. I was no exception. Algebra, at the time, seemed like a series of random symbols—a foreign language. My confusion led me to pose a question on mathtrain.com. To my surprise, my math teacher, Mr. Marcos, made me a video tutorial, (a.k.a. mathcast or screencast) to demonstrate the process of solving the problem, which was extraordinarily helpful. Intrigued, my classmates and I pioneered to create mathcasts as well, which we did using Camtasia, which meant I was not only a student, but also a contributor to the education of other people in my class and school. As I began creating interesting visuals and collaborating with friends, math was a subject I began to look forward to. By explaining difficult concepts on video, I was forced to confront and clarify my understanding of the topics. Recognizing their effectiveness, Mr. Marcos began posting these videos on mathtrain.tv so other students could use them as well.
Creating and watching mathcasts were an engaging way to spend my afternoons, but within the span of several months, Mathtrain.tv had spread to over 50 countries and had been viewed by over 30,000 people! As the year progressed, we recruited more students to make videos and began posting them almost daily. Inadvertently, I had become a key player in a movement that was sharing math concepts with students around the world in a creative and informative way.
From Student to Conference Presenter
Having been an instigator of these math tutorials, Mr. Marcos invited me to join him in demonstrating mathcasts at educational conferences around the country. At first my role was small; I offered anecdotes and demonstrated the technical aspects of making mathcasts to teachers and educators.
As the conferences expanded, so did my responsibilities. At Intel’s IdeaJam, I took the stage with a peer to convey the importance of kids being active in their own learning. I presented at Building Learning Communities to thousands of educators and school administrators. Being the only student presenter was initially intimidating; however, I gradually began leading these presentations. Mr. Marcos would demonstrate the teaching concepts and then take a back seat among the audience as I explained the importance of collaborative learning. Remarkably, each of these presentations strengthened me enough to where I accepted an invitation to deliver my own keynote at the K12 Online Conference.
Much like Milo of Croton, my capabilities, strength, and confidence grew with each new challenge, and opportunity. Before participating in Mathtrain.tv, I was under the impression that education was a one-way street. As mathtrain.tv progressed, so did my vision of education. I began to cherish the value of collaborative learning and the accountability of engaging in a process that is mutual between educator and student.
The time I spent creating mathcasts helped me develop a set of skills that have prepared me for the next big step: attending college. Through these videos I have learned how to clearly communicate visually and verbally, study more effectively, become a leader among my peers and take control of my education by extending learning beyond the classroom. With these skills embedded in the way I now approach my education, I’m looking forward to the freedom that college provides and the opportunity to pursue what I enjoy learning about and exploring most.
Tiana Kadkhoda is a senior at Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California. She has not yet decided where she will attend college in the fall, but plans on exploring the fields of education, sociology and psychology.