Looking Back Through The Lens

Yesterday, as part of a Social Studies activity, students were “challenging” each other as they tried to narrow down issues for our Election Campaign. Some students chose to write down their thoughts and questions, while other students contributed orally to the discussion. I decided to videotape one of the conversations in action.

While watching and listening back to the video this morning, I realized that students had a misunderstanding — something that I did not pick up on during our discussion yesterday. As you can hear in the conversation, they sometimes refer to distracted drivers as “drunk drivers,” but this is not the case. I think that the students need to do more research to figure out what constitutes a distracted driver and the impact of the proposed solutions.

Working through this Social Studies inquiry on The Role of Government and Responsible Citizenship, I’ve come to realize just how much reading and thinking is required. I know that some of the information is difficult for the students to understand, and I know that we’ve needed a lot of small group and large group discussions to further our understanding and help overcome misconceptions. So much of the learning happens though as a result of figuring out the problems and seeking solutions.

Videotaping these interactions throughout the process only helps with this. I find it hard to go back and listen to a recorded lesson: the problems always seem at the forefront, and I start to question my teaching skills. But looking at lessons critically is a good thing, especially if I can learn from my mistakes and make changes (i.e., continue working on questioning skills, and knowing when to ask the questions and when to let the students ask the questions; hold back, and let the students ask first, and then contribute my questions to further the discussion). If I hadn’t videotaped yesterday’s lesson, I would have probably overlooked a key misunderstanding, and it would have impacted on future inquiry activities. As always, it was worth the recording.

How do you use videotaping in the classroom to aid in your own professional reflections and for the use of formative assessment? What benefits and/or drawbacks do you see in doing so? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


2 thoughts on “Looking Back Through The Lens

  1. Honestly, I have not thought much about the topic. On the other hand, I believe in and support action research. So, the idea intrigues me.

    That said, in order to make full and complete use of the process, I think one would have to commit to doing it daily, and with each class. Would that mean setting up a video camera permanently in the classroom? What would that mean for parental and student consent? What role would it play, if any, for teacher assessment and evaluation?

    Lots of questions. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment here! You ask a lot of great questions! I find myself taking videos almost every day, and I just use my iPad to do so. I could certainly see putting a device at a specific centre/activity or committing to taking a video during a specific time of the day. I know that my parents sign-off on video recordings through our Board consent form, and then I email and talk to all parents about how I’m going to use these videos in the classroom (and why I record them). Yes, my administrators can (and do) see my video recordings, but I don’t see this as them evaluating me. I see this as a great opportunity to dialogue about the choices I’m making, my own future goals, and what I can do to improve in these areas. My principal and vice principal are both very supportive of my decision to videotape class and student discussions, and they’ve only offered me feedback if I’ve asked for it. It’s never a matter of them telling me what to do differently, but instead, a great professional dialogue about “options.” If anything, I think that videotaping gives me a better opportunity to reflect on my own teaching practices and make improvements. I see this as a hugely positive opportunity for personal professional growth, and I would highly recommend that others try it if they have not done so before. Royan Lee, a fantastic Ontario educator, has blogged about this topic a couple of times as well, and his posts are definitely worth reading: http://royanlee.com/?p=3328 (both posts are linked here).

      Thanks for the great discussion!

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