Masters Boasts Its Own YouTube Influencer

Upper school math teacher Michele Dennis claims she doesn’t know how to work a TV remote control, but that hasn’t held her back as a new YouTube content creator. Judging by her math channel’s popularity, it's clear she has a strong grasp of the video platform. 

Last summer, Dennis launched “Ready to Derive,” on YouTube, inspired by the math videos she created for her students during the pandemic.

“I owe credit to my Algebra I classes of 2020-21 because I would occasionally make videos for the class,” Dennis explained. “My students liked them and encouraged me to start a channel. I started tinkering and found I really enjoyed designing and planning these videos, so I just went with it.”

Dennis was also motivated when she realized that YouTube is the go-to place for students when they have been struggling with material or reviewing for a test. 

“When I tried to give students recommendations for videos to watch, I realized that it was hard for me to find ones that aligned with a kind of Harkness/discovery teaching style; I think my videos manage to do that,” said Dennis.

Dennis creates videos aimed at her AP Calculus students in what she calls “the Masters way” by “flipping” the classroom lesson. Students watch a video on a topic the day before class and do a couple of practice problems. “In the ensuing class, we have an (often lively) discussion about the topic, go over the practice problems and spend the rest of class doing explorations and practicing more challenging problems,” she explained.

“This makes learning individualized, so everyone is coming into the classroom with (near) the same understanding. Those who would either be behind or ahead in a normal math classroom are starting at a more even playing field, so the class is altogether more engaging,” said Sophie Moussapour ’25.

Clara Nalle ’24 also finds the videos helpful. “I love that I can use the channel as a resource and look back at detailed past lessons whenever I need to.”

It takes several hours for Dennis to create a 20 to 30 minute video with Microsoft PowerPoint. “I love designing the lesson with real-world scenarios to introduce the topic, wherever possible, and lots of visuals to help bring it alive,” Dennis said.

“Implicit Differentiation” is Dennis’ most-watched video, followed closely by “Differentiability” and “The Power Rule.” 

The beloved teacher was recently awarded the Jane Rechtman Faculty Chair and is celebrating her 26th year at Masters. She has plans to produce math videos “all the way back to Algebra I” and is ready to go viral.

“It hopefully will be a channel that students around the world, not just at Masters, go to when they are struggling with math concepts,” said Dennis.

Her fans are cheering her on. “I think Ms. Dennis is destined for YouTube stardom!” exclaimed Nalle.

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