The biggest problem was that I didn’t know how to make videos. I had done some very basic video editing in the past, but lacked knowledge about any current apps or software. The TSA suggested ShowMe as a good first step. It’s an interactive whiteboard app for iPad that lets you narrate over slides. There are very few choices - adding pictures, a few colours, and an erase function. And that’s it. I know it may seem limiting, but when you are first starting out, reducing options makes something Really Scary seem far more approachable.
So I started making etymology videos. I took what I would have done in class and put it on video. What I found was that I could get through the instruction in ⅔ the time, AND be able to walk around the room helping students and keeping them on-task. Students who missed class or spaced out could see the video again on their own time. Slow writers could pause whenever they wanted to. Even though I didn’t end up assigning it as homework, it saved us so much class time that we were able to do far more writing than we would have pre-flip.
The next thing I used ShowMe for was creating videos of me reading the text aloud (Night, Looking for Alaska, Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby and Crown of Dust so far). I would put the text on screen, then read it aloud. I sometimes mark my place with little dots down the margin so students can follow along.
Lately, I’ve been working on a new use for ShowMe. I created some instructional videos, like these for grammar, but never really used them well in class because they didn’t really fit into my instruction anywhere. However, I did realise that much of what I would “go over together” in class could be put on video. So instead of teaching vocabulary live, I use these videos and students watch them on their laptops and create the flashcards digitally. That way, they can control the pace of the instruction.
I am also going to use the same structure for our Language Mastery practice (sentence correction with vocabulary integrated). Students will correct the sentence on their own, then watch the video and note the changes they missed. I’ve always struggled with the idea that students wouldn’t be able to get all of the instruction and explanations live, but putting them on video means that they always have access to it at their own pace.
Note that I am not assigning ANY of these videos as homework. I am using them as self-paced modules during class time. If you’re going to give homework, then videos are less bad than other work (so long as it’s short and comprehensible for all students), but we believe that homework, as it is given in most classrooms, is not good for kids. Having them struggle through an assignment they have questions about and need help on is painful for parents (and for the support teachers who help them with their homework!) and frustrates kids. /rant
How else do you use ShowMe or other interactive whiteboard apps in your classroom? If you want to see all of my ShowMe videos, you can find them here. Want some help getting started on ShowMe? I did a presentation for JET last year where I walked through how to use ShowMe. You can find those slides here.
This is the sister post to one Andrew wrote about LessonPaths. You can find that, and lots of other great posts, at concertedchaos.com.