Friday, May 17, 2013

Progress Report from a Technology Immigrant

This week’s learning project: using video technology to improve student presentation. First, groups of 5 students used a school laptop with iMovie to record their own “rough draft” presentation so they could watch it and assess it themselves with the same rubric I would be using starting the following day. 

What I learned: One group of students, one computer, one period--that’s what it takes to do a good job of this with a 10-minute presentation. For my first class, I forgot to do the math with minutes; I was too wedded to my old way of doing it, which was having 2 groups perform for and rubric each other. So I gave each pair of groups a computer and rubrics. They videoed themselves and rubricked each other, but they didn’t make any use of the video. Still, nothing is really a waste if it is part of my learning process. 

The next day, when we started real presentations, I used a camera to video record students for the first time, and I now have the presentations on my laptop, taking up such a huge amount of memory that it scandalizes my husband. 

The good things:
  • Sense of accomplishment! This always felt like something I should do, but it seemed too much to add on top of organizing the room for the presentation and then assessing them. But now that cameras are so tiny and easy-to-use, it was so simple I feel silly for having put it off so long.
  • Greater accuracy in assessing: With groups of 5, it’s easy to miss marking some rubric line for some student. This way I can go back and check.
  • More feedback for students--if I can figure out how to efficiently let students see themselves. That’s my next step.
Why is it important for students to see themselves? 
  • Understanding their performance: There’s no more effective way to get them to understand how distracting it is when a speaker repeats “um’s” or plays with her hair or squints at to the iPhone in front of his face. Or conversely, how engaging eye contact, expression, and a few well-chosen, emphatic gestures are. 
  • Understanding their assessment: As with the use of the model paper, it will help students understand why I’ve marked them the way I have--and perhaps where they thought I’d been unduly strict, I’ve actually been gracious.
  • Understanding the standard: I can save good models to teach from. As I’ve used student models of projects and papers, students understand what the level is that they are aiming for, and their product improves. 
So my assignment for this week is to find out how to reduce the size of the video files and post them somewhere students can get access. One step at a time--I’m learning, and my students are, too.

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