Usually the conversation about “videos for instruction” get relegated to the tired conversation about whether or not students learn best from a video or their live teacher #flipclass.
This isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about students producing the videos… starring in the videos… scripting the videos.
Stuff like this:
How the Unit Circle REALLY works: http://www.nextvista.org/unraveling-the-unit-circle-using-spaghetti/
How-to Complete the square: http://www.nextvista.org/completing-the-square-2016/
Now as you watch those, it’s fair to ask the question, “yeah but the students are simply going to watch an instructional video for a single skill, right?” And from a student learning perspective from the side of the CONSUMER, that’s likely true. And when you go to Next Vista’s website, you’ll see that it’s fairly simple to find videos, but it’s also that there’s lots of opportunities to submit videos. That’s where this conversation turns. When you see this from the side of the CREATOR, you get a whole different view.
Rushton Hurley (the founder of Next Vista for Learning) has a line I’ve heard him use a couple of time: “When your students know their classmates and community will see their work, they want it to be good. When they know their teacher will be the only one who sees it, they want it to be good enough.” And I think that platforms like Next Vista can provide the space for students to invest their time and effort into learning math to the level needed to record videos that can help others learn the math that deeply, too.
That’s something we’ve learned as math teachers. When you don’t know what you are talking about, that becomes a problem when you are trying to instruct someone else on that topic. By exploring creative outputs for our math learner, we are operationalizing that same truth. In order to create effectively to support learning, you have to have deep knowledge of the content yourself.
And the prospect of deep math knowledge for our students is enough to get my attention.
What could we do if we gave the students more control over how they presented their learning to us?
A simple Google search for some random geometry topic… let’s choose angle pairs… reveals a whole collection of visual images meant to serve as posters, visuals, flash cards, etc.
And most of them are really, really boring. Our students could do better than that. But they might need a tool to do it. Here’s two.
What I love about these two tool is that they are really, really easy to use. Free to get started (and, quite frankly, perfectly satisfactory without leaving the free version) and easy to share.
Now, you might be asking, “why would we want our students to spend time making this stuff?” Fair question.
Remember, to make something helpful to others, they need to learn it themselves. And for some students, being able to make something awesome-looking can help to add some motivational value to some bits of content that are difficult to jazz up. (Angle pairs, for example.)
Thinking of something like this…
And, of course, it won’t work for all students. So, you can keep the quiz handy for the students who would prefer to show you what they’ve learned that way.
People (generally) like doing what they are good at. So they get better at it because they are practicing it more.
People (generally) don’t like doing things they aren’t good at. So they don’t get better.
Teachers have to figure out a way to strike the balance. We like to let kids do what they are good at (because they tend to engage more enthusiastically and produce more satisfying products). We also need to compel students to do the things they are not good at (because they need to get better at those things.)
So, adding tools to your tool box that can help students engage the things they are find interesting can take (sometimes) take the sting out of the fact that they are being asked to do something they aren’t very good at (like read… or solve math problems.)
One suggestion I had for the literacy side of this was The Literacy Shed. Here’s another. Check out Episode #14 of “Instructional Tech in Under 3 Minutes” on Wonderopolis. Wonderopolis is a site that allows the students to ask what they wonder. And what they’ll find is a diverse variety of articles developed around some of the most interesting “wonders” you can think of.
Check out Wonderopolis and consider what adding it to your EdTech toolbox could do for your students.
Episode #13 of “Instructional Tech in Under 3 Minutes” is on the assessment tool Formative. Now, according to the Formative’s promo video, this is the perfect tool for you if you love Google Forms and Kahoot. (Which I do…)
So, here’s the deal… it combines the diverse flexibility of Google Forms with the ease of access of Kahoot, which is a nice combination. Real time feedback is a nice touch as well.
This is the third mostly-assessment tool that I’ve highlighted and I do that on purpose. Mostly because building the right assessment can be a little tricky. If you’ve got a well-chosen learning target paired with the appropriate instructional strategies, then it makes no sense to haphazardly build an assessment experience for the students. Kahoot, Google Forms, and Formative all have their unique features. So, with their powers combined, they become a system that can create mostly any kind of assessment questions you might need. Individual or group, performance or self-report, anonymous or named.
It can be tricky to build the right assessment. Have a number of tools in your toolbox is often the first step.
Google forms isn’t a new tool. Not even close. But that doesn’t matter.
A good tool is a good tool (particularly if your school has embraced Google). Particularly a tool that has an ease of use (both for students and teachers), is highly flexible, and can be used on any device.
But, the fact that this tool has been around a while doesn’t mean it’s the same tool it was back in 2010. File uploads and different kinds of gridded responses are among the latest updates.
Plus, adding Equatio to Chrome will make adding math notation much easier, too.
So, give Episode 10 of “Instructional Tech in Under 3 Minutes” a watch and remember Google Forms the next time you need to gather input from your students.