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East County Thursday, Apr. 23, 2020 2 months ago

Modern take on history for Lakewood Ranch students

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Nolan Middle teacher creates YouTube channel to engage his students in their lessons.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Every day around 11:45 a.m., a group of R. Dan Nolan Middle School students go onto YouTube to watch The Donut King teach them about history.

To Lakewood Ranch residents who don’t know The Donut King, he’s a man teaching students about U.S. history as part of his class at Nolan. To his students, he’s Chris Robinson, a U.S. history teacher. 

Robinson decided to produce his online lessons via a live session on his YouTube channel, Mr. Robinson The Donut King, at the suggestion of his students who said he would be excellent teaching through social media because of his humor. 

R. Dan Nolan Middle School history teacher Chris Robinson, also known as The Donut King for his love of donuts, has flying donuts fly across the screen during a countdown to the start of his history lessons.

He starts his lessons by looking at students who are commenting in the live chat, greeting them, saying jokes and putting smiles on their faces.

“History can be very plain, very vanilla and dry when read out of a textbook,” Robinson said. “I like to use humor, sarcasm and jokes with the kids because they pick up on that ... whatever I can do to make history more entertaining, funny and lively.”

To prepare for his YouTube debut, Robinson watched other YouTubers he knew were popular among his students to get tips and ideas of the structure of an episode to implement it in his videos. 

Before he starts teaching, Robinson has a countdown with flying donuts in the background. Robinson was dubbed the Donut King at school for his love of the fried dough dessert.

Robinson opted to create videos for his students because they told him they like to see their teachers online since they can’t see them at school.

“It makes them feel some normalcy, especially in the time we’re in right now,” he said. “Any piece of normalcy of what was before, they want to grasp. If that means I make a fool of myself on camera and make funny faces, I just want them to have at least one hour every day where they feel like they’re at school again and they have their normal lives.”

Chris Robinson, a teacher at R. Dan Nolan Middle School, uses a YouTube channel he created to live stream his lessons to students.

Robinson uses PowerPoint to teach his students in the video, which will usually last at least 45 minutes. Students are able to ask questions as the video goes on, and anyone who couldn’t watch the video live is able to watch it later.

Robinson will produce videos of him telling embarrassing stories from when he was in middle and high school such as the time when he was in high school and got his stomach stuck in the trunk of a car.

“I’m going to do these things called Story Times where it’ll be five to seven minute videos where I tell stories so it keeps them not just doing schoolwork that they have to do while they’re away,” he said.

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