Grassroots Workshops

Have you ever been a part of a process that just fascinated you? That’s the only way to describe my summer project. With this one project, I learned so much.

I was approached by Robert Kaplinsky (who I’ve known for several years) to plan and produce a Grassroots mini-workshop on the use of Clothesline Math. Wow! This was going to be an extraordinary experience since I’ve seen the types of sessions/workshops that Robert puts on. I was truly honored to be asked and wanted to make sure I put together a workshop that was worthwhile.

The process was fascinating. Obviously I’ve been a teacher for over 20 years and can plan lessons in a classroom. About 5 years ago, I transitioned to being able to plan for 1 – 1 1/2 hour sessions at conferences. Being able to train teachers has been one of my passions and so I was anxious to be a part of Grassroots. However, it’s one thing to put together a face-to-face session where I make sure I give time for reflection, conversations, and math activities. The big question that loomed is “how do you transfer that to a recorded video session?” It was a problem that I was eager to experiment with and find a solution.

The first part was figuring out who my audience was going to be. Is it an educator that has never heard of Clothesline Math? Or is it an educator that maybe has heard of it and wanted to find out more? I chose the latter of the 2 questions. Usually my audience is whoever shows up to my elementary conference sessions, but this took a little bit more detailed planning.

The second part was planning out lessons that would answer all the questions participants might have about Clothesline Math. This took a few revisions as we wanted to make sure that the lesson titles had a progression to them. Once I knew what questions to answer, I mapped out each question on a powerpoint.

Now here’s the interesting part. I had plenty of content to cover, but I needed to figure out the “how”. How do you cover the content? How many videos do you make? What ratio should I use of myself talking versus showing a powerpoint? How do you keep it interesting instead of just becoming a talking head? What’s the best way to implement reflection? What’s the best way to do an activity with people that are not directly in front of me? What recording programs do I use? How do I get my logo into the corner of my videos? (The tech part was a full education in itself.)

You can check out what I did right here and see how I answered those questions right here at

Here’s what I learned…

I learned a few new programs that help to make a movie. At first I was going to figure out just QuickTime, but then I discovered LogiCapture and Loom. Loom is easy to use for picture in picture especially while using a powerpoint. I’m especially grateful that Loom upgrades teachers automatically. Additionally, I had to watch a few Youtube video tutorials on how to use iMovie to edit my videos, add in my logo or any other special effects. I’m proud of what I created and my videos look very professional.

I learned that I’m a better presenter standing up then sitting down. This sounds like such a goofy revelation, but it’s true. I started making my videos while I was sitting down. I sent a preview to Robert and he said I was robotic. He didn’t know where “the Kristen he knew” had gone. I then showed my husband who concurred with Robert. However, my husband diagnosed my problem. He made me aware that every time I teach in a classroom or present at a conference that I stand up, use my hands, and become animated. My husband advised me to try standing. The next morning, I excitedly re-recorded my welcome video and it made a world of a difference.

Did you know that there are teleprompter apps? I’m pretty good with tech, but this was new to me. It was super helpful when I made videos and wanted to remember all the main points of my lessons.

Making videos is not easy. Making the videos became a workout in itself. I was standing up for at least 4 – 6 hours a day. I made sure to wear decent shoes (although you would never know). I tried to keep my energy level the same for each take. In order to make one 4 minute video, it could take 15 tries. I had to worry about the dogs barking in the background, the dogs walking in the background, the garbage men making noise, the landscapers with their blowers, the phone ringing, or any other noise/distraction that would end up in the video.

And my dining room became my studio. Not exactly Hollywood by any means, but we made it work. It was a like a game of Jenga.

Most importantly, I was appreciative to spread the word of Clothesline Math on another platform. It was a great summer project to complete while still trying to quarantine. Much thanks to Robert for mentoring me through the whole ordeal.

Until next time,



  1. What a wonderful reflection! It’s so great to read about how you experienced this process. I’m excited to see teachers learning from you and using those strategies and resources to help students.

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