Claire Shao ’22

Brayton Elementary School, North Adams Public Schools, North Adams, MA

For eleven weeks this summer, I recorded, edited, and published science videos based on the Teach-to-Learn curriculum used by the elementary schools of the North Adams Public Schools District. Throughout the previous academic year, I worked as a science fellow for the Center for Learning in Action (CLiA), partnering with my first-grade classroom teacher and current internship advisor, Jacqueline Thomas. When the pandemic forced all Williams and North Adams elementary students to learn remotely, my science fellow partner and I decided to collaborate with our classroom teacher to continue working with our first-grade students for the rest of their school year. We met with the class weekly over Zoom and created video lessons that could be uploaded onto YouTube for the students to access. From this experience, Molly Polk from CLiA and Mrs. Thomas got the idea for a summer project building a virtual library of accessible, short, and fun science videos that could be used as a supplement in case the next school year continued in a remote format.

Starting in early June, I met with Mrs. Thomas weekly and began writing scripts for the three first-grade science units: Light and Sound, Plants and Animals, and the Solar System. I edited together three- to six-minute-long lessons using a lot of visuals, such as pictures and animations, PowerPoint slides with key vocabulary words, and included videos of short science demonstrations I recorded myself. One of my main concerns throughout the summer was whether my videos were understandable and interesting for the age group, while also challenging them to develop their reading skills and scientific thinking. I also compiled a list of free online educational videos, experiment ideas, and interactive websites in order to supplement the hands-on learning that couldn’t be replicated through any video lesson. I hope that my videos and these online resources will help families and teachers throughout the remote learning parts of the next school year.

I have never considered teaching as a career before this summer, and while I still don’t plan on teaching full time in the future, I believe that this internship has been a valuable learning experience. I’ve worked with North Adams elementary schools for two years, and it is a program that is very close to my heart. This internship has strengthened my appreciation for this program, and I plan to continue working as a science fellow until I graduate. This summer has also given me a glimpse into the detailed work that goes into curriculum planning, and I hope to learn more about it through the developmental and educational psychology classes that are offered at Williams.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn a new set of skills this summer through making videos and for the opportunity to continue collaborating with my advisor, Jacqueline Thomas. Thank you to Mr. Robert Kraft P’86, P’89, Mr. Jonathan Kraft ’86, and Mr. Joshua Kraft ’89, and to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for this wonderful summer experience.