Sunday, January 25, 2009

Video of learning for learning and assessment

GymnasticsImage via WikipediaLisa Hogan and I talked recently about using video for learning. She related her experience as a gymnast trying to make a difficult move. Her coach showed her video of failure to catch the bar. She said that she saw the problem and corrected it.

Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers p. 245) summarizes Alan Schoenfeld's use of videos of learning for learning:
Over the course of his career, Schoenfeld has videotaped countless students as they worked on math problems. But the Renee tape is one of his favorites because of how beautifully it illustrates what he considers to be the secret to learning mathematics. Twenty-two minutes pass from the moment Renee begins playing with the computer program to the moment she says "Ahhhh. That means something now." That's a long time. "This is eighth-grade mathematics," Schoenfeld said. "If I put the average eighth grader in the same position as Renee, I'm guessing that after the first few attempts, they would have said, 'I don't get it. I need you to explain it.' " Schoenfeld once asked a group of high school students how long they would work on a homework question before they concluded it was too hard for them to solve. Their answers ranged from thirty seconds to five minutes, with the average answer two minutes.

But Renee persists. She experiments. She goes back over the same issues time and again. She thinks out loud. She keeps going and going. She simply won't give up. She knows on some vague level that there is something wrong with her theory about how to draw a vertical line, and shw won't stop until she's absolutely sure she has it right.
Similarly, Tony Wagner (Global Achieve Gap Videos p. 142) commends video of teaching as a learning tool:
At the time, the only course offered on instruction and supervision was an elective, taught by Catherine Krupnick. In Catherine's course, we spent class time looking at and discussing videotapes of real teachers in their classrooms and then role-playing what we would say in a supervision conference that might help the teacher improve. It was a enormously engaging class and the only one that I took in all of my graduate years that had any practical application to the teaching and leadership issues that most concerned me. The course should have been required for my master's program.

Later, when I worked as a faculty member in a university teacher education program and supervised other's practice teaching, I required my students to bring copies of video tapes of their lessons to our seminars and found them to be a powerful tool for improving their teaching. I truly believe that viewing and discussing videos of teaching and supervision is the single most effective strategy for improving instruction for all schools, yet it is almost never done, for reasons that we'll explore in a moment.
If one of the goals for iTeam is for members to facilitate learning, it makes sense for members to record and reflect on our learning, too.

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