Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thoughts from a Five Year Old

Today I grabbed my iPhone and did an experiment.  (It was also and excuse to play with paper airplanes.)  I wanted to see what kind of journaling I could do with a five year old (my son).  Fifteen minutes of filming, fifteen minutes of editing, and fifteen minutes of uploading later we were done.  I did everything on my iPhone 4 (but it also would have worked fine on an iPod touch).  The editing and commentary was done using the iMovie app on my phone.

Someplace during one of my many conferences and PD events I heard a speaker talking about video science reports.  The speaker was playing with middle years lap reports.  The students recorded their conclusions in a video instead of a written report.  Their work averaged about two grade levels higher.  The written report was a barrier to their learning.  (No I can't remember who or where it was - if you know please let me know.)

My goal was to see what we could do with a primary student.  I am quite happy with the results.  Tristan looked at the pictures and talked about them with very little prompting.  (Yes I did bribe him with another airplane.)  I left most of the prompting in the video.  The intent was to see what I could create with very little time and effort.  It is not meant to be an award winning documentary - just a quick record of what went on.  I think that there is huge value in projects like this.  Often in the primary grades journaling consists of drawing a picture to describe what you did.  Isn't a video like this more valuable?  With young students an adult would need to do most of the work but I am sure that Grade 3 students could run iMovie and create the same video (after some lessons of course).

Yay - Some success!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Successful Failure

A couple of years back (in 2009) I went and recorded about 70 math instructional videos and put them up on my YouTube channel.  I was very excited about how it might be a way to help my students work at home.  Our school has very poor attendance and I was pulling my hair out about how low my success rate with with senior math.  Each video was 5 minutes or less and were intended to be simple - only one concept per video.  I even organized them (in many cases with classroom notes) on my section of the school webpage.

The project was an overwhelming failure - and now it has become a different success that I am proud of.

First the failure.  My students did not use the resource.  I tried to sell them on the idea but failed.  The time, effort, and resources were wasted.  It failed for two main reasons.  One - very few of my students had high speed internet at home.  Today it is still shocking how little access my students still have.  Two - my students rarely did (or do) homework.

As time has gone on other people have been finding my videos.  Comments from students all over have been filtering in.
Thank you so much! Now I get it haha. THANKS! >_<
It is obvious that the comments have been coming from students - not teachers.  People are finding my videos useful.  The hours I put into creating them have not been wasted.

Last week one of my math videos even hit 10,000 views.  I am not sure why that particular video has been viewed so many times.  (Yes I realize that you aren't anybody on YouTube until a video has hit half a million hits).  It is not one of my better ones - in fact I created it on a whim and almost didn't upload it.

This year some of my students have finally started using the resource.  Finally.  When a sub teacher comes in they prefer to watch my videos than listen to somebody else explain the concept.  They are used to the way that I teach.  It is about time.

This fall near the beginning of the school year some of the Central Office staff started getting excited about online learning resources like the Khan Academy.  One of our consultants mentioned my name and pointed out that I had already done this with my math videos.  (Thank you Donna.)  For the record I think that most of the assistant superintendents had already seen my videos but had merely forgotten about them.  Sometimes it feels good to be on the right end of the curve.

The math video project is still a failure.  The students that I am paid to teach have not really used it a lot (and my goal was to help MY students).  I can admit the failure but I am still proud of what I created and what it has accomplished.