Skip to main content

You spin me 'round, 'round, baby ... Audio & Video Reflection

One of the things I stress when working with teachers is to have them record themselves in the classroom, either using audio or video.  It's eye-opening (and illusion-shattering) when you see yourself on the screen saying things and doing things.  It's made my practice more self-reflective in the moment -- what would I say or do if I replayed this later?

We've got a new little tool that alleviates two of the problems with just putting a videocamera at the back of the room:

  1. Audio... if the camera is at the back of the room, the audio often picks up way too much noise from the students.  I realize that students are our raison d'etre, but when you're focusing on improving you and your teaching, you want to hear what you are saying (reflecting on what your students are doing is a whole other issue!)
  2. Movement... if you're doing teaching right, you're not standing in one place.  A stationary camera, even with a wide angle lens, often doesn't capture you as you move around the classroom.  You could bring a camera operator in but then you add a whole new dynamic to the classroom -- we all know what happens to the students when there's someone new in their space!  Plus, imposing on someone else's time just to turn a camera isn't really efficient.
So technology to the rescue!  The Swivl camera base http://www.swivl.com/ will take your phone or tablet and connect it to a base that swivels automatically with you as you move around the classroom.  It does it by using a small clip-on (or lanyard-ed) microphone, so as it tracks you it is also wirelessly recording you.  The quality of the audio is amazing and, so long as you don't turn your back to the camera and walk away, the base tracks you around the room (of course, once you face the camera again, it swivels to find you).

It's a little expensive for individuals (200$) but for a department or school that's interested in improving teaching via reflection, I think it's invaluable.  Just not having to have a second person to run the camera is huge -- and since it's initially stored on their personal device means it begins the conversation under their control (teachers are often leery of others seeing them teach, even if it is to offer constructive suggestions).

We've also used it for student presentations, again to improve the audio and follow the student with out a camera operator, but more on that later.



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Teacher Professional Development and Microsoft OneNote

During the first three weeks of July, I have the amazing opportunity to work at the Park City Mathematics Institute.  It is, without exaggeration, the best professional development opportunity for teachers of mathematics.  Participants spend three weeks thinking deeply about mathematics and mathematics education.

There are three main aspects of PCMI:

learning mathematicsreflection on practice (RoP)becoming a resource to others.I'm part of the team for RoP and in charge of the third aspect, in which participants consider a gap in professional development back at their home districts and work in small groups to help fill that hole by developing a rich PD seminar on that topic.

It is not easy to develop professional development.  Teachers who haven't written PD have to patiently learn how to write (essentially) lesson plans for someone else.

This year, I used Microsoft OneNote to facilitate the process.  We have a central OneNote Notebook through which I lay out the daily schedule…

Five reasons to learn Math with OneNote

So, Alice Keeler - @alicekeeler- who is an amazing blogger and an incredible resource for those using Google products, posted 60 Ways Math Teachers can use Google Classroom last April.  It came across my desk the other day and, since school hadn't started yet, I thought it might be a good reflection for me on how one could do similar tasks with OneNote Class Notebook.

I went through the list and checked that I could accomplish them all with OneNote and re-wrote her post with those modifications ... but it was looking a little "plagiarism-y" so, just to check, I emailed Alice to see if she was okay with it.  She was not, but encouraged me to do my own brainstorming.
So... Math Teachers & OneNote (including OneNote Class Notebook).  My top five... 
1) The Under-valued value of scribbles & notation
If you really want to be "paperless" (and that should never be a goal - you want to be digital so that content is no-cost) in a mathematics classroom, it's n…

Auto-Grading an Office365 Excel Survey Assessment

So it's pretty common that folks use Google Forms to create an automatically graded assessment.  Now, I have to admit, as a mathematics teacher I don't do a lot of fixed-response assessments like this that need automatic grading.  But that doesn't mean it isn't a useful option.

In fact this post arises not from automatic grading but rather a situation in our Psychology course.  The teachers were doing a study with their students and wanted to collect the data easily and run a T-Test with as little work as possible.  (A t-test, roughly speaking, determines whether two groups are different from each other.)

We set up an Excel Survey for the students to enter their results and then in a second sheet in the spreadsheet containing the Survey, we laid out the T-Test.  As the results came in, the T-Test continually re-evaluated.  Success!

I figured if it can work for a T-Test, it can work for a simple multiple-choice, True/False or simple word response. So I head over to my O…