9/27 part II.

Scobles Tablet PC
Scoble's Tablet PC

My months are rigidly divided into three parts: elementary school meetings, middle school department meetings, and high school department meetings.  These are my set dates for which I prepare for.  Each department that I supervise has unique (and often pressing) needs by the time I meet with them each month.  This morning I met with the world language department at the middle school, who, due to a change in schedule is now meeting with all of their students on a daily basis, whereas beforehand they saw 6th grade every other day and 7th and 8th grade every day.  Needless to say, there is some adjustment going on and emotions are high.  Their new schedule has them teaching 30 minutes instead of 40 minutes, yet on the whole for the year their student contact time is higher–confusing, I know.  What they had expressed concern over was that loss immediate class time.  And, if you add in student passing time between classes that 30 becomes 25 or less.

My approach to them was simple: how can I give you back more class time?  The reality is that I am not involved at the building/scheduling level; I can’t physically give them back more time.  I showed them how to create screencasts using Jing.  The thinking behind this was simple in that if they were losing up to five minutes of their class time to passing time and administrative tasks, was there a way that they could ensure that students had the resources to reconstruct that missed time?

There were a few assumptions here:

  1. That teachers will create the screencasts: I was asking them to give up “outside of class time” to create these.
  2. That students will watch them.

Both assumptions are not mutually exclusive. Teacher buy-in and student buy-in go hand-in-hand when it comes to the success of any change in the norm.  If I didn’t wrangle the teachers today in some capacity, there is no way the students will ever see these things.  Here’s how I ran the class:

  1. I showed them what was familiar to them on their tablets (our world language department all have tablet pc’s): Word, PowerPoint, and Journal.
  2. I showed them how to ink on those programs.
  3. I launched JIng and screencasted.
  4. I played it back.
  5. I asked someone to verbally repeat my steps.
  6. I asked them to begin the download process for Jing (slow network).
  7. I asked each of them in turn to come to my tablet and create a mini-cast and publish it.
  8. We laughed at each other.

Lots of “I’s” but also plenty of “we’s.”  There were many times throughout were I would have succumbed to dwelling on what is not possible in the classrooms, but for now, I wanted to focus on something they could do to be pro-active to increase their instructional capabilities.  Screencasting allows them to say that there are resources available to the students at ALL times.

I hope it works.

Image Credit: Scoble’s Tablet PC” from penmachine’s photostream

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3 thoughts on “9/27 part II.

  1. As a math teacher, I use screencasts (using OneNote and Cam Studio) as a dynamic solution guide to ‘typical’ skills (solving equations, graphing lines, etc). It will save me time when all of my students have their own tablet, enabling them to access the information whenever they need it. It does take (some) time, but the benefits definitely outweigh the costs.

    I’m curious: what are you hoping/expecting your world language department will screencast (so that I might pass it along to our equivalent) and why aren’t you using OneNote?

  2. Clint,

    We’ve been pushing these with our math department over the last year or so, and for those that have used it, they’ve responded in much the same way you did. It’s worth it, they feel, to those who take advantage of it.

    With our world language department, we’d like to see it used to help students master difficult alphabets like Mandarin Chinese and Russian. Also, we feel like it may help with review concepts in the other languages, especially in the areas of pronunciation.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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