Easy Tips to Film and Share Effective Blended Learning Practices From The Classroom
June, 2014 – Program Day Six
While most teachers around the country see the month of June as a time to finally relax with the arrival of summer, the teachers in the CityBridge Education Innovation Fellowship (EIF) have their eyes focused on the launch of their blended learning pilot projects. In my last blog post, I wrote about how the Fellows used design thinking principles to develop their summer pilots. In our June EIF program session, the 19 Fellows, teachers from PreK-12 D.C. public and public charter schools, learned about approaches to document and share their pilot projects with the broader blended learning community.
Liz Norton, of Stone Soup Films, a production company dedicated to telling the stories of nonprofits through film, led a training session for the Fellows on how to use video to document their summer blended learning projects. The session was especially useful for me and my work at Ingenuity Prep, where I film, edit, and produce videos to further the development of highly-effective educators in our school.
Below are three key points shared by Norton, combined with some of my own tips, on how to capture and document classroom activity.
1) Your smartphone (and maybe a couple of add-ons) is all that you need.
With the advent of the smartphone, we’ve arrived at a time when just about everyone is, or can be, a “filmmaker.” Liz Norton suggested to the Fellows that it’s not necessary to buy a separate HD camcorder to document what’s happening in their classrooms. Instead she encouraged them to use their smartphones, most of which are already equipped with a high-quality video camera. She recommended using a Slingshot Stabilizer, a mini-tripod device, to help capture a steady shot—a must when producing a compelling video.
2) Focus on capturing and sharing the experiences of students—they are often the best storytellers.
You might be the most energetic, charismatic, and dynamic person in the classroom, but at the core of blended learning is a personalized design for students. Even if your goal is to document your teaching and classroom experience, be sure to also capture students’ reactions to instruction and content. Responses about student learning and engagement will provide you with useful material to reflect on as you rethink and redesign your classroom.
A good example of that is this video from Shane Donavan, a 2013 Education Innovation Fellow and physics teacher at E. L. Haynes Public Charter School.
3) Edit, edit, edit.
Twenty minutes of video from your classroom is great, if you’re looking to self-reflect. But, if you want to share what you’re doing in your classroom with a broader audience, learn how to edit.
The ideal length of a video is 30 seconds to three minutes! It should be visually interesting, informative and engaging. Many computers on the market already come equipped with editing software, and iMovie is a great place to start for beginners. If you need help, YouTube is another great online resource, providing many easy-to-follow tutorials on how to use software like iMovie, Final Cut, or Adobe Premiere.
Looking to document what’s happening at your school or classroom and don’t know the first thing about video? Check out the Vimeo Video School, a great beginner’s resource on shooting and editing.