Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Flip Camera Filming

Ok, I have to admit this blogging thing is kind of addictive. I didn’t think I would blog so often, but today was another one of those crazy in a good way days.

I had a feeling the instructional strategist who runs our STEM program would be coming in today, to film me as I taught. She mentioned it a few weeks ago, but I never got a confirmation. A part of me was hoping she forgot. Regardless, I had planned a fairly good lesson in science. I had my PowerPoint ready, and I knew what I was talking about—you know, tongue rolling, hitchhikers thumbs, widows peaks, etc.

Of course the two hours I teach science came and went, and no instructional strategist.

It was finally time for recess, and as I was walking my kids to lunch, that’s when my strategist appeared. My counterpart across the hall was able to speak with her and confirmed she’d be coming by this afternoon.

Hmmm…what to do now? My plan for the rest of the afternoon was fairly simple. I was going to wrap up an activity from the morning about the Civil War. Then, I had some persuasion/summarizing Language Arts stuff for the afternoon. But, I wanted something more exciting, something more impressive.

Yesterday my kids were obsessed with the earthquake and the devastation in Japan. I had found some links this morning on how advances in engineering had actually saved quite a few lives in Japan. I had put those links on my website, and I figured I could come up with something pretty quick. I wrote some open ended questions, and they were good to go.

One of the greatest advantages to having access to technology is that it really allows the kids to learn independently—given the proper level of scaffolding. I gave them their assignment, and with their mini laptops in hand, the kids began their engineering activity.

As I let them loose, and started monitoring their progress, finally my instructional strategist came in. She set up the flip camera and then went to work on her laptop.

After 30 minutes, my kids were still working on their assignments. I answered their questions, gave all sorts of feedback, and admittedly, things were going fairly well. The end of day was fast approaching, and so I set my timer and gave them ten minutes to completely finish. Then, we started our wrap up to discuss what we had discovered.

At the end of the day, I had to watch the video and evaluate how it went with my strategist.

I will say this, if you have never video taped yourself while teaching, it is extremely interesting.

This is what I learned:

1. I hate the sound of my own voice.
2. T.V. must really add ten pounds, because I know I lost 20 pounds in the last year, (my scale tells me so) but according to the video, I have no idea where.
3. 5th graders are really quite mean to each other—even to people they call their friends.
4. 5th graders have mastered the art of looking busy—when in actuality, they are not.
5. I never give kids the answer. (I am always asking them to elaborate, or asking them what they think—how annoying!)
6. Nothing is too hard for my 5th graders, they impress me daily! I asked them some really difficult questions and they were able to do it without complaining/major issues.
7. I don’t need a PowerPoint for everything. An activity that took ten minutes to create kept my kids just as engaged as something that I worked on for hours.

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