Hey, my students are publishing!

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by bledsoe on September 17, 2011

Dr. Lodge McCammon of NC State University has suggested that the well-known Bloom's Taxonomy of learning objectives (remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create) needs another layer: publish.  Specifically he's a proponent of teachers encouraging their students to create short, one-take videos and post them to the internet.  I heard him speak about this at a workshop I attended, and I decided to try it out in my Geometry class.

I have a project that I do in which I have the students make a short "Geometry Scrapbook" using some of the standard geometry terms that we learn about early in the class (acute angle, vertical angles, segment, etc.).  I'd have them pick 20 of the terms, find pictures from magazines or the internet to illustrate their terms, and then create a 20-page scrapbook with their pictures.  It wasn't a bad project, but when I decided to have the students create a paper-slide video of their scrapbook, I immediately felt like it would be an improvement.

So my students just finished making their videos (I cut the number of terms to ten so the videos wouldn't be too long), and I'm pretty pleased with how it went.  I'm specifically pleased with the following:

The students were doing almost all of the work - Except for the actual filming and posting of the videos (I ran the Flipcam, uploaded the videos and added them to the website, etc.) and some basic review of the students' paper slides to catch any obvious errors, the kids did everything else.

The students' understanding of their terms was noticeably better than the non-video project - I think this is for two reasons: 1) They knew they were going to be making a video and that I was going to be posting them to my class website.  Not like a public showing at an art gallery, but still, they knew their work was going to be public; and 2) in order to create their video they had to be able to talk intelligently about each of their pictures and tell why it represented the chosen geometry term.  One of the things I noticed about the pre-video project was that I would often have students turn in a scrapbook where one of their photos had, say, a picture of a building, and the picture was illustrating the term "acute angle."  But there would be no markings or other indication on the picture to indicate that the student actually understood where (or if) there was an acute angle in the picture.  With the videos, the students are actually narrating each of their terms/pictures, so they have to explain why each picture illustrates the selected term.

It allowed for differentiation - this is just a fancy term for assignments that allow students to maximize their learning regardless of differences in ability level.  I was especially pleased with how this project worked for my ESL kids, who often struggle with all of the new vocabulary terms in Geometry.

Project Specifics

You can download my project info sheet here (Word doc) and you can view my actual project videos here [Update: Actually, I don't do this project anymore, and I've apparently deleted the info sheet and the videos.] I assigned the project on a Friday, and made the deadline for video creation the following Friday.  I used two class days for workdays; on the first day (Wednesday) the kids were supposed to have all ten of their their pictures and on the second day (Thursday) the kids were supposed to have created all their pages/slides and be ready to record their video.  Each of these 2 milestones counted as a homework grade, and the completed video counted as a quiz grade.

At the end of class Wednesday, I only had 5 videos recorded, but by the end of class Friday, I had 26 (of 28) recorded.  On Wednesday, almost everyone spent the class time working on or completing their paper slides.  On Thursday, as each kid finished recording their video, I sent them to the computer lab to watch the lecture video for the next set of class notes.  Friday was more of a normal day, with most of the class working on the practice problems for the next section, and a few kids finishing their videos.  I also had one student who created her video at home.

Overall, I give this project a solid B, which is excellent for a first try.  I plan to do this one again.

Image by Phil Roeder via Flickr.

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