Friday, March 9, 2012

Students as Creators of Content

I want to try something new in a couple of weeks when we start our unit on Trigonometric Identities... students actually creating their own videos!

Here are my thoughts on this 3-day lesson (Unit Q Concept 5):

1. Day 1 - students practice on their own/in partners or groups on paper.  Goal for today is to start collecting pages for the "answer book" on trigonometric identity verification (one page per problem, there are about 50 in this section I want attempted overall).  This can then be scanned in and posted online for all students to study.

2. Day 2 - students create videos explaining and working out trigonometric identity verification in partners.  I have already received approval from my Asst. Principal for students to use their cell phones as the video cameras so I don't need to worry about supplies. (I do need to check with my students to see that enough of them have cell phones with video cameras, but I am 99% sure that won't be a problem).  I would like to see each partner choose an identity apiece and work it out on paper first, and then record themselves (options for face or no face) teaching and explaining it step by step in a short video.  These videos would then be posted on YouTube/SchoolTube for the rest of the classes to view and utilize in their studying.  The identity that is worked out on paper will be added to our "answer book".

3. Day 3 - students continue to work on both paper and video problems to conclude this lesson series as needed.  Students can also make videos for previous concepts (#1-4) if desired to share with the class.

I am really excited (yet nervous) to try something like this because it is new and different.  In the past, I have been the one to make the answer key for all the identities, and that has been very time consuming.  Here, the students will pick ones they want to work out (thus having to self-evaluate for difficulty level) and their answers (both written and video) will be shared with all 74 students I have in Math Analysis.  In addition, every problem will also have a video to go along with it (not created by me!!!).  Some problems will have more than one video, so it may show it being worked out in a different way.

I would like to see how this works, and if it might even be something that can be continued in future chapters.  I can see it working great, but I can also see some kinks that will need to be worked out.  If it works well, I think it would be so cool to have video lessons not only created by me, but created by peers!!!

I will update here in a few weeks once I try it out :)

Do you have any experience with this?  What advice would you give?  Even if you've never done something like this, what are some things I need to consider or plan for to make it successful?


  1. You're doing the right thing. Lots of research suggests students develop a better understanding if they are involved in the teaching process. With good preparation, which it appears you have done, getting the students to talk through the solutions will embed understanding in them more effectively. Discussion is more effective than passive listening. The collaboration in preparing the videos and feedback generated by the student presentations will provide further discussion and deeper learning, even if there are errors. Good luck.

  2. Hi Kirch,
    Sounds like a fun project.

    I just starting doing something similar in my 6th grade science classroom. We've purchased Camtasia software and kids are making video lessons on solar system topics.

    What I've found so far is that I can train a few students on the technology then they teach each other, freeing me up to help with content.

    One thing that is important to me is making sure the emphasis stays on content not technology. I'm sure we've all seen kids spend oodles of time creating fancy powerpoints with little content. I'm aiming for one-take video lessons with little editing unless they finish early or come in at lunch.

    Another thing, which I'm sure you've considered, is either making sure they are solid with the concepts they'll be teaching or provide a way for students to give constructive feedback when videos reveal misconceptions.

    Right now my kids are in love with this video lesson concept and I'm trying to figure out how to make it apart of our regular weekly routine.

    You might also check out what the kids are doing over at MathTrain.

    Good luck,
    Can't wait to hear how it goes!

    1. Hi Kirsten,
      Thanks for your comment and thoughts - great things to consider! I haven't used Camtasia at all, but I've heard so much about it. I'll have to explore it this summer when I have time.

      I agree with the focus on content not technology. I am planning on having these vids be one-takes and no editing - just upload it online as it was recorded.

      I am hoping with students working in partners and (hopefully) peer-editing before making videos will help alleviate too many issues with misconceptions before recording. We will see as it goes on.

      Just heard about the MathTrain site today on a webinar I participated in, so I am checking it out.

      thanks for the ideas :)


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