Our project was named Show & Tell in the 5th Grade. Our plan was to have students record themselves solving math problems to post to a class website. We imagined a Khan Academy-like site for our students. We quickly learned that it was not as easy as it sounded.
We ordered drawing tablets that were simple plug and play devices. They were used in conjunction with an online whiteboard site and screen capture app to record students demonstrating how to solve various math problems. Students were given time to play around with the equipment to get used to it. We tried various pen widths and types to find a combination that worked. Homework completion increased once students began seeing the finished videos. The problems were taken from homework assignments that had been reviewed and corrected. Everyone wanted the opportunity to make a video, so we were quickly bombarded with completed work.
The plan was to have multiple videos per math topic completed over one grading period. In a two month span, we were able to complete one video. We made the mistake of trying to control every aspect of the recordings. As teachers, we just didn’t have enough time to sit with students as they recorded. As we grew more frustrated with our inability to complete the recordings, we realized that our student TA worked well with our students and was technology savvy. We handed over the recording and website creation to her while Mr. Clappi handled the teaching and I handled the training of students on the equipment.
Our student learning goals included developing problem-solving skills, understanding personal learning styles, and building on fundamental technology skills. As we began creating the videos, students approached us to create videos in their own language so we started with a few in Spanish.
As the school year comes to an end, we are making plans for next year to continue with the video making. Now that we have “solved the problems”, we hope to expand the topics covered and establish a more simplified process. Our hope is to involve more high school students to help streamline the process. They can work with students individually or in small groups to correct problems, set up recordings, edit videos for quality, and maintain the website. This will allow for a student-run project within the school that builds relationships among the younger and older students.
Darlease Monteiro is the Technology Coordinator/Specialist and Michael Clappi is the 5th Grade Mathematics teacher at Global Learning Charter Public School in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Both have been at the school for many years and have collaborated on various project together.