What does your typical class period look like? If you’re like me, you have between 20 and 30 (or more) students that are all vying for your attention so you can meet their needs. There’s nothing wrong with that...in fact, you’re at your best when you’re working one-on-one.
But, in reality, how much one-on-one time do you get with kids? Probably much less than you would prefer. We’re often relegated to the front of the room, at the whiteboard or projector, speaking to a large (mostly captive) audience. Then, we get some time to practice as a group before the class period is over.
This is not effective.
I want to propose a simple solution to help mitigate the lost time in whole-group instruction: record a lesson. Or, record multiple lessons. Record something that can be moved out of the public space (class) to the private space (on-demand), wherever and whenever that may be.
Now, some of you may be thinking that this is far too hard to do on a regular basis, and I’m here to politely disagree. Screen capture technology has improved dramatically in recent years and it is easier to get started now than it ever has before.
Entry LevelScreenr.com - Screenr is a website that will record your screen for free. You can log in using Google, Twitter, Facebook, or Yahoo! account in order to save and share your recording. Screenr will record your screen for 5 minutes at a time (more on that in a minute) and then host them on the site, which is great if you can’t access YouTube.
Jing - Jing is a free download that runs on your computer. It also records five minutes at a time and hosts the videos in a linked account to a site called Screencast.com. The videos can be shared and even password protected on Screencast, and again, the hosting serves as a place to go if YouTube isn’t an option.
AdvancedThere are different ways to advance your recordings. Essentially, these are videos that have edited portions to enhance the content sharing. Imagine taking a video of your computer screen with Jing or Screenr, and then running it through iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, which is, in fact, one way to accomplish the goal.
The program I would recommend for more advanced recording and editing is called Camtasia. It is created by the same company that makes Jing and they offer education pricing. If you feel comfortable with video editing, this may be something you look into as you research screen capture.
How Do I Use This?So, should you record absolutely everything and just put it online for kids to access? Absolutely not. Should the use of these videos be relegated to home? Absolutely not. Content is available 24/7, and we need to begin allowing access to content wherever and whenever students are ready to use it.
There are some lessons that lend themselves to recording, others that are terribly ineffective if recorded. My general rule of thumb: if it is rote, procedural, algorithmic, or lower-level information, it might be a good recording. This would be something like how to log into a Google Apps account for your class. It could also be how to perform a chemical conversion or how to spot an adverb in writing. The video is to help offset some of the initial (or remedial) skill-building that comes with learning new content. Even then, a topic you may think would make a good video could bomb with students...and that’s okay.
Think of using video in your instruction like a chef prepares a meal...it cannot be just salt, but it also cannot be the main course. It has to be used intentionally to solve a particular problem. For me, recording lesson segments allows me the time and opportunity to move throughout the room and focus on higher-order problem solving and learning with students...together.
Let’s go back to our opening question: What does a typical class period look like for you? Here’s mine:
- I speak with every student, every day.
- I know my student’s individual strengths and weaknesses.
- I celebrate breakthroughs and victories after working through a tough problem.
- I guide and prompt students out of misconceptions and frustration.
- I teach.
Take the one question that bugs you the most, record an answer, and post it online as a resource. When a student asks you that question, point them to the resource. This does not have to be a lesson...it can be something simple like how to add a file to a folder in Google Drive. Free up some of your valuable class time by moving some lower-level tasks from the public space (class) to the private space (on-demand). Post a link to your video once it’s created and share your learning.
Brian E. Bennett is a chemistry teacher in South Bend, IN. He uses Flipped Learning in his classes to promote student engagement and direction in the learning prccess. He speaks frequently on using technology effectively with sound pedagogy. Brian also writes frequently on his blog, Educator, Learner and shares all of his class resources on his class website.