Progressing

For the most part, I’ve been working for a few hours every day to prepare for classes in the fall.  I’m starting with 6th grade and working my way up to 7th and 8th.  And I have the Physical Computing class to work on.  Going to the Arduino sessions at The Hacktory really helped, and I might go to their project nights to work on my cat tracking project.

I’m moving my Scratch curriculum back to 6th grade.  It was mostly in tact, but I needed to tweak it a bit.  One thing I’m doing for all my middle school classes is flipping.  I’ve realized that I lose valuable class time to explaining concepts (often more than once).  For each class period so far, I’ve created 5-10 minute videos.  Yes, I’ll gain the 5-10 minutes back, but I’ll also be able to have students watch the videos again if they need to and I can be helping others move forward.  Here’s the playlist I’ve created so far: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLo7YO_w3ktGQ3w4opcyJnYUeljJHkcwEE

I’ll be adding to that as I go along.  My plan is to finish 6th grade today before I head out for vacation.  When I return, I’ll work on 7th grade.  I also have to prepare a couple of talks in there.  I have a feeling that 8th grade won’t get done until end of July.  And Upper School will happen beginning of August.  There goes the summer!  Honestly I don’t mind.  Basically, I work for about 4-6 hours, depending and then I do nothing.  Well, currently, we are re-watching all the Harry Potter movies.  I’m taking my computer with me on vacation as is Mr. Geeky.  Right now, we’re both planning to not do any work, but we’re thinking if the mood hits us . . . I know, sad.

5 Replies to “Progressing”

  1. I’ll be intrigued to hear how the videos work with your middle-schoolers. I’ve found videos to be a very poor way of transmitting information for me (most recently encountered when I tried to take a beginning psychology class as an experiment and also when I tried to use a new photo editing software). In the first case, the material being presented was stuff I knew, so it could be that the boredom kicked in. But, for the software I needed the info but found the videos very frustrated. In both cases the video quality I was seeing wasn’t good enough to see the screen well enough (though my eyes are getting old).

    I’m interested to know if the new generation perceive video information differently than I do (which would not be surprising). I’m going to try get my daughter to look at your videos to see how they work for her — she’s interested and is a rising 7th grader, so nearly the right demographic.

  2. Let me know what your daughter thinks. I’ve tried to keep them short (the longest is 14 min.) and to zoom in on the important parts. I sort of intend for students to stop, try the thing and then come back to the video. And the idea is that they would be doing what they learned in class, which could be the next day or it could be a few days away, depends.

    I’ve had similar experiences with video, except when they were short and demonstrated a basic concept that I could go try immediately. I tend to prefer reading text. I should probably do a survey with the kids after a few videos to see how they like them.

  3. I will update you. I suspect that kids are different from us. My son has definitely been using videos for instruction, though they are usually for things like origami folding, where the video is a particular help. But, that can be true for using graphical interfaces, too.

    I’ve realized I have to get used to the videos, ’cause they are so much easier to make for software, than to produce a text manual.

  4. Extracting information from video is a skill; a useful one for 2013. But it needs to be modeled and taught, just as we teach close reading of text or active listening. Kids born after 2000 aren’t preternaturally gifted at this particular skill just because more video has been created after their birth.

    In our 5th grade Information class, we use our Scratch lessons as a window to teach “how to use a video lesson.” This starts with real dry, procedural stuff; how to set up your screen to see both the video player and the window you’re working on, how to pause the player with the keyboard, how to switch between programs without disrupting the layout. If there’s value in the flipped approach, it’s because students can personally manage the flow of information and weave their own experiments in with the lesson. In turn, that skill set is something we need to teach.

    Especially if this is a long term class strategy, you’ll be rewarded for modelling the “video learning” process in class, using both your own videos and others. I think students adopt new learning techniques more readily when they can see that a teacher uses them for her own authentic, in the moment, learning. If you lay the groundwork correctly, by midyear you’ll have a culture where even peer to peer “can you show me how?” moments lead to reusable, kid created video.

    I’m excited to see your vids! I learned a lot about the process in both recording my own a few years back and then watching students adapt to a new learning style. Our set is 2 years old and due for a Scratch2 reset – http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB07A4960A7E9EEC1

  5. Thanks for the link, and the suggestion about teaching students how to watch these. I was thinking I might do that on the first day. I also plan to add other people’s videos to the playlist so they can see it’s not just me who does these, and I’d love for the kids to make their own.

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