"My sales have gone up dramatically since starting with video", says Kerry Tracy. See how she shares her STEM challenges with Video on TpT.

This week, we’re showcasing Kerry Tracy’s Winter – Christmas STEM Challenge: Snowman Stretch Video at the TpT Store Kerry Tracy.

Here’s what we noticed:

  • Kerry’s outgoing personality stands out in her videos. She’s comfortable chatting with her audience in this conversational video style.
  • Including simple transitions along with visuals and music are great ways to keep the flow of the video going.
  • Kerry adds a brief explanation of a related resource, but the viewer will be able to recreate the STEM challenge in the classroom without making the purchase, too. This is a way to share out useful information to teachers while still providing timesaving resource recommendations. The video is useful content without being a commercial or promo.

Let’s hear more from Kerry about creating video!

1. What inspired you to start creating Video on TpT?
I wanted to share two main types of information with teachers:

1) General STEM Challenge PD/tips & tricks

2) Walkthroughs of my STEM challenge resources that would hopefully drive people to buy, but contained enough information that they could do the challenge without having to buy the resource.

Although some people are likely watching without buying, my sales have gone up dramatically since starting with video. (Score!) The reason behind this seems clear to me. Video helps create a more personal connection with followers (and future followers!) and builds trust in your expertise. It also gives you another way to reach people, answer FAQs, and educate buyers on your practices and philosophy. Most of all it allows you to communicate passionately about your subject(s). I think video is helping “my people” find me faster than before because the videos make my brand clear, quickly.

"My sales have gone up dramatically since starting with video", says Kerry Tracy. See how she shares her STEM challenges with Video on TpT.
Kerry’s studio set-up

2. What steps did you take prior to filming your video?
I’m a little old-school in my approach! I know there are teleprompter apps, but I still use 3×5 cards and a cork board! I jot down just the main points I want to cover because I don’t come off very naturally when I’m reading verbatim. That is a special skill I don’t yet possess! Once I have my cards arranged on my corkboard, I set it up near my camera tripod, get all the lights on, and gather any props I plan to use. I mess up a LOT but that’s what editing is for! Never feel like you have to get it all right in one take!

3. What’s your tip for someone new to video?
1) Don’t worry about being perfect. Just start and let your personality out to play! You’ll probably want to brainstorm a list of topics and goals you could accomplish with video. I’d also suggest making at least your first few videos free to take the pressure off!

2) Don’t spend a lot of money on equipment. You probably already have a phone or simple camera that takes video. If you have a PC, Windows Movie Maker is free editing software and likely already preinstalled on your machine. If you’re a Mac user like me, the same is true of iMovie. At this point, I’m still not using a microphone (though I will make that purchase soon). As long as your sound is loud enough and doesn’t have a lot of distractions, it’s ok! The more complicated you make your first video, the less likely you are to actually make your first video. To keep my sound decent without a mic, I film at night when the neighborhood is quiet. I turn off heat/AC and tell the family to move like ninjas if they must move at all!

Once you have a few videos under your belt, you’ll know your pain points (and commitment level) well enough to decide if you need to invest in equipment.

4. What software did you use to create your video? Were there any new tips or tricks that you learned in the process?
I use iMovie and Quicktime for screen capture. My number one tip: if you have a question, type it into YouTube search; someone has filmed a video tutorial to help you – probably many someones! Just about everything I learned how to do was a result of YouTube tutorials.

If your question is about specific software (iMovie), use the name of the software in the question and include the version number if you know it. That info will make the search results more relevant. You can also find tips on lighting, sound, how to curl your hair using a straight iron… EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know is out there, and you can learn at your own pace!


"My sales have gone up dramatically since starting with video", says Kerry Tracy. See how she shares her STEM challenges with Video on TpT.
Kerry uses iMovie for editing her videos

5. What were some things you did to create your filming environment or background?

"My sales have gone up dramatically since starting with video", says Kerry Tracy. See how she shares her STEM challenges with Video on TpT.
Kerry’s background for filming

I wanted to have a cute set because I felt it would encourage me to film. I don’t think it’s necessary to do, but it felt psychologically important to me — like I was telling myself that I was doing this thing, embarking on a journey! I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, so I went to Ikea and purchased wall-hangings, a bookshelf, and some decorations. I also bought two paper globe lanterns for extra lighting. I use daylight bulbs in them (which I’m told is important) and they cast a nice, soft light.

Finally, I purchased an extra light to place directly over my head. I didn’t take the perfect measurements, but I was loosely following what is called 3-point lighting (although I cheat because I always use the room light, which makes 4). It’s a little ugly and thrown together, but your setup doesn’t have to be fancy to work! In fact, you can forget lights entirely and just set yourself up by a window that gets good light!


6. Can you tell us about one or two of your videos that you really like? How do you hope these videos will help educators?
I’m pretty proud of “5 Reasons You (only think you) Hate STEM Challenges”  and “All Students Deserve to Fail: STEM Challenges & Growth Mindset” because I feel the content is so important. In the first video, I hope I succeed at countering the common reasons/misconceptions that keep teachers from doing STEM challenges with their kids. In the second video, I try to help teachers understand that STEM challenges will fail sometimes and there are all sorts of important, teachable moments when they do. When “challenge” is in the title, you have to expect there’s a chance it won’t always go to plan the first time!

This is what makes STEM challenges perfect for developing traits of a growth mindset. If we want resilient students who think creatively and don’t fear failure, we have to create opportunities to practice those skills and model how to channel a “failure” into productive learning. OK, off my soapbox (for now anyway)!