HERMITAGE — None of the students in Cheri Manners’ Spanish class knew why they were being called to the Hickory High School lobby last month.
And although she initially feigned ignorance, Manners knew the reason: Her class had just won an national video competition sponsored by Edulastic.
“I asked the kids why they were there and they said “We don’t know,” and I told them ‘Well, I know,’” Manners said.
Edulastic, an educational software service, held a contest called the “Edulastic Extravaganza,” where school districts could submit a blog or a video about how the company’s programs could change their school district.
Manners, who started using Edulastic in her classes this school year, said she discovered the contest online in mid-September and thought her students might enjoy it. However, for a moment Manners said she wasn’t sure if the class could participate, since she found out Sept. 20 that the contest would announce a winner only 10 days later.
“At first I told the class I didn’t think we’d have enough time to make a video, but I had two students stand up and say, ‘No, we’re doing this,’” Manners said.
In a spur-of-the-moment decision, the class developed a brief outline, then filmed the video with Manners’ tablet.
The entry was structured as an advertisement showing an joyless class transformed, with a happy teacher and attentive students, after Edulastic’s introduction.
“It seemed like something that would be fun to do,” junior David Ristvey said.
After filming, the class went on to its next period and Manners said she edited the video that weekend before submitting it to Edulastic.
“It took us all class period to do it, and did we a couple takes, too,” junior Nora Logue said.
Manners didn’t have to wait long to find out if the students won or not. Edulastic reached out to her Sept. 24 to report that her class’ video had won. However, she wasn’t allowed to tell the students until Sept. 27.
Since the announcement date was the same day as Hickory’s pep band’s performances at all of the district’s educational buildings and homecoming, many of the students were in and out for different activities, so Manners had the students called down to the high school’s lobby.
“When I told them, their jaws dropped,” Manners said of her students.
As reward for winning the contest, Edulastic shared the video and class photos across its media platforms, and Manners is allowed to use Edulastic’s premium services for the school year, a value of about $3,500.
The competition isn’t the first time that the students have used technology in the classroom. The students already use Chromebooks for classwork and assignments, although there have been times that the students have performed more creative tasks.
For one project last year, Manners said the students used the video game “Minecraft” to create their own digital houses then used the virtual houses to demonstrate their knowledge of Spanish words they were learning in class.
“In the game you can put up these signs with words on them, so the students could label the different items,” Manners said.
But even without the technological enhancements, Manners’ students said they appreciate her efforts to make the class interactive and enjoyable.
“She tries to get us involved, like she’ll give us a point for participating if we say something in class, right or wrong, because we’re trying to learn and we’re speaking up,” senior Sydney Burprich said.
And she’s not alone in that sentiment.
“She makes the class really fun, which is good because I think knowing Spanish could be really useful,” said fellow senior Aliyah Hunt.
Since the class won the Edulastic competition, Manners said she is looking into other competitions available, while the students said they would be willing to try their hand again.
“Maybe next time we could take more time to plan it out,” junior Arick Simoros said.
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