What's the Value Added?

3/30/2009 05:56:00 pm

Cross posted from a ning community I'm in.

Watch this first:

OK, so this is going to sound weird coming from a math teacher — I'm liable to be run out of the club for saying it — but, in most subjects, does every kid have to learn exactly the same stuff?

Here's what I'm thinking (and I don't think it's an original thought):

Don't send them home to read and listen to the lecture, send them home to take in a short (10-15 min video) or even a micro lecture. Then change the classroom into more of a lab or studio environment. Each kid produces a paper or other artifact of what they've learned and shares it with the rest of the class either face-to-face or online; they become expert in the area they've chosen to explore and at the same time develop the research skills to learn related content when needed.

The question I try to ask myself is: What is the value added for my students by being in the same room with me? If I recorded my lecture (video or audio) and they watched it at home, did the assignments and handed them in, would they be missing something by not being here physically?

I do think my students gain value by being in the same room with me, but most often when I speak very little. I let them work through the problem(s), debate and defend their work with each other, and only towards the end, when they've collectively sucked the marrow from the bones of the problem do I either ask another question that fires them all up again or draw their attention to the finer points of how best to share their thinking on paper.

This is what the video I embedded above suggests to me. I know I'm not there yet, but man! I'd like to be.

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  1. That is where I would like to be too. I find too many students in Grade 8 are just coasting through life. They are not curious enough or care enough to learn on their own. As a teacher I still have to push and prompt to elicit answers and thought. I would be curious to know how they change when they arrive at High school.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. I have similar experiences with them in High School. I'm thinking this might be something that makes math class more engaging and the learning more sticky. I figure I'll give it a go and see what comes of it.

  3. After watching the video I SO want an iphone. Tick Tick tick can you hear my contract running out.... so slowly with MTS.

    Cool video and I think there is merit to this idea. Lots of background work to make it happen. It would also be a way to stream students and differentiate their instruction. Some want the freedom. Some can not handle the freedom. I think it could work.

  4. I like your idea of individualizing learning; I think that this would give students a lot more ownership of their learning. One problem I see with the "watch the lecture/mini-lecture/video at home, have the discussions in class" model is that it undervalues students' time. If we are still expecting them to be in school 5+ hours a day *and* consuming our selected content at home that can be a bit much. In the video clip you embedded, the hybrid class gave the students time by saying they only had to attend one class per week instead of two. Is there a way to make this work in a high school setting? If there is it would be a pretty cool way for our students to learn.

  5. "One problem I see with the "watch the lecture/mini-lecture/video at home, have the discussions in class" model is that it undervalues students' time."

    Interesting, I see this in the opposite light: It values student's time.

    I typically send kids home with anywhere from 15 min to one hour of homework each night depending on the course. This way, they get 15 min of homework. The real sweat begins in the classroom where they can get the help they need when they need it most.

  6. I was already doing this in my class before I left to become a professional developer. Not to the extent here, but for example during our unit on energy and power I provided links to video, websites, and even suggested items that were going to be on TV for kids to watch and summarize before our next in class discussion.

    To me you value the students time and your own time when you reserve for the face to face time those things that can only be done face to face. Me modeling, problem solving or helping with skills.

    The challenge I had with the video was how locked into Apple this is. What about those kids that don't want an iPhone? iTunes U is awesome, but I hate locking our delivery to one platform and one portal.

  7. Anonymous10/4/09 23:15

    I have been trying to figure out how to do this myself. I have been dabbling in recording examples ahead of time (http://coxmath.blip.tv) but I am not sure exactly what to do with it. If you figure it out, please post it.

  8. This is a good example of studio teaching with micro lectures and using technology as the binding medium.

    In the first half of the school year, I experimented with a ning site (http://multiprod2008.ning.com) and posted a couple of micro lectures using Smart Recorder. This was done in addition to the classroom lecture. Given what I've seen from the video, I would have liked to try this on a standalone basis and see the results.

    I believe by giving students the opportunity to individualize learning, you are valuing their time.

    I'm not sure if you could try this in middle school, any experiences?