Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Using Video to Engage

After our school won the Best Buy Best In Class award we made sure to purchase some basic video cameras with our money, in addition to 15 Macbooks.  We chose a basic Kodak flip type camera, and I'm really impressed with both the quality (1080p) and the ease of use (any of our students can figure them out instantly).

This has caused me to start using video creation as a major assessment during each of my math units.  Students are asked to create a teaching video which must include both definitions learned in the unit, a real world example, and a good use of manipulatives.  I'm pretty impressed with the level of engagement that I'm seeing from my kids!

The more "mathematically inclined" students are happily making two or three problems and going off to create their own manipulatives to use in the video.

The students who are less capable in math are still able to create a good video with the basics of what I've asked for.

Each unit tends to involve at least one video, sometimes more if there are lots of unique concepts.

Everyone is really happy with their results.  Because of a CRAZY amount of FOIP paperwork required by my school division, I can't show you the videos...but I can at least share a bit about the process.

-I tend to assign one or two topics that mesh (we're doing single and two step equations right now)

-I use groups of 2-4, depending on the kids who are forming the group.  Less and you don't have a camera operator, more and you have too many people and not enough tasks.  4 is actually a rarity - that's usually too much.

-Tripods are nice - we have two, and they're always in use.

-I broke down how I teach some basic lessons.  The students noted that various stages that I went through when I talked about a topic (introduction, a real world problem, some key terms and ideas, an activity, practice, etc).  This was really helpful for when they started to make their videos, as I quickly discovered.  Before we did the "lets see how we teach a lesson" lesson, the most common question was "Where do I start?" or, for some "Can I have a camera to record 'stuff'" :)

-I always make sure to be very specific with my kids - mine need it, yours will perhaps need less.  Things like how many shots they need to take (minimum 3 for me), which definitions to include, who has to be in the video, etc.  I find it really helps with focusing either the less mathematically or multimedially (new word I just made) inclined.

-Students don't have to do a formal storyboard for my videos, but they do have to have the basics done.  Usually that requires them to actually have the manipulatives they want to use out, have the worked problem they're going to show us, and be able to not only define the words, but also have some sort of visual representation of what they mean (this is a video, after all...).

-Locations can be difficult - I've taken over the paper and photocopy room, quiet hallways, gym storage rooms, etc :)  Make sure if you have lots of groups that you have somewhere to put them for filming.

-We use iMovie and Garage Band to create everything, and it generally only takes about 2 classes after geting their footage together to make it into a decent finished product.

Overall, I'm really happy with what they've made, and they're able to show me some good understanding through both the process (I'm marking anecdotally) and the final product.

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