Monday, March 7, 2011

Making my First Math Video

I've been thinking about the inverted classroom model. There seems to be a few key advantages like getting kids to be more proactive about their own learning and allowing them the ability to rewind or re-watch as many times as it takes for them to absorb all of the important info, but I don't like it as a way to introduce skills and topics. The non-interactivity of monologuing about math for 10 minutes cannot be very effective in activating prior knowledge. Even when I do a mini-lesson in class, I like to call on kids to provide feedback, so that I can make sure that I am pacing the class appropriately for the slower learners of the batch and that I'm clarifying and re-wording parts that may seem unclear to them in my initial description. The other issue is that my kids don't really have trouble recalling simple facts or concepts. It's when they all mingle together that my kids start to get confused. (And although we work out their issues in class, they don't always remember what we did in those n-step problems a few weeks/months later. --Shocking, I know!)

But, I am considering implementing something like this to help kids review the more difficult parts of a past topic or assignment that has already been introduced / worked on in class. That way, they can look through the archive and only tune in to the "episodes" that are giving them trouble. Also, this means that if they do not remember how to do something that's a bit complicated, they can always go back and find a relevant problem and watch the video to see how it was done. (Versus my current model, which is we would discuss their difficulties in class, and who knows how good their annotations are going to be in helping them work out the entire process later on??)

In fact, I am going to begin making a video archive of problems soon. (Why wait until next year to try this out?? March seems as good a time as any.) My one class where kids really need extra review is in Precalculus, and it seems like we're always running out of time to teach new material, that we can only do so much review in class for the material we have already learned/practiced. I am going to experiment with making some videos about current and past topics/problems, and dumping them onto a webpage so that these kids can look them up as they need to instead of always seeking me to re-explain the same things.

Addendum: So, since I'm one of those impulsive types, I abandoned this blog entry midway through and went ahead and tried to make a video last night! The video wasn't half-bad in quality actually, even though holding the camera in my left hand and writing while standing (easier to hold the camera steadily that way, while leaning my wrist on a box) and thinking about what to say at the same time (and trying not to mess up) was quite tricky. In fact, there was a noticeable pause in the video when I had to do a simple subtraction, because I was just so distracted by everything that was happening at once. I also got cut off half-way when the camera ran out of battery, so I had to finish it off in a separate video -- fortunately, it was in a natural break of the topic. But in the meanwhile, if you can take a peek and give me some feedback on the math explanation and/or the format, that would be great! (I have to still work out the technical aspects of the job. Right now, after conversion into Windows Media Player format it is still too big for my taste and makes uploading kind of a nightmare. I tried converting into FLV and it got really grainy and difficult to see the letters on the page. Suggestions??)

Here are the links: Part 1 and Part 2 of how to find domains for combined functions. Are you able to see them on a regular internet connection? (My hope is that they're more or less stream-able.)


  1. Very cool, Mimi. Coincidentally, my school is doing this kind of project too. This Wednesday, three of us are getting together to create some short movies. We got turned onto the idea by a teacher from another school who came and gave a presentation on a PD day about what his school refers to as "vod-casts" (like pod-casts, but with video).

    The lessons that his school had learned from doing them for several years was that they needed to be short--like 2 to 3 minutes, short--and needed to be on one topic. If I were re-doing your video, I'd break it up into 4 different for each of the function combo's (you could do both quotients in one video). I would also find a way to mount your camera so you don't have to hold it while you're doing the taping.

    The techno side of how my school is doing these is pretty cool. We have access to some tablet computers, so we are writing on them using the pen function in Microsoft OneNote and recording the screen and audio (via a headset) using a FREE software program called CamStudio (you can download it from their website). Our initial attempts look pretty snazzy. Sadly, I don't have any to share...yet.

  2. Interesting! Thanks for the feedback! This topic doesn't really work as well to cut up into four videos one for each function combo, since the first 5 minutes are spent on analyzing just f and g separately. But, I can see how chopping up the second segment into two shorter parts, one for f+g, f-g, fg (those group naturally together since they're "forgiving" operations) and one video for f/g and g/f would be helpful. It'd probably also help with the load time to have smaller files...

    Thanks! Did you have trouble loading/streaming? (That's my biggest concern. I'm about to go home and try it, but I wasn't really able to try it this morning before leaving home, since I had just left the upload going after I left home. And at school the internet connection is either way faster or way slower, not a good indicator of the average at-home connection.)

    By the way, I welcome the tech tips!!! My boyfriend actually has a tablet-ish thing I can use probably for this, but the screen is really small and also I don't want to randomly download a bunch of programs onto his computer while he's away from home, so the tech upgrade is probably going to have to wait... I sort of just want to get this rolling so I can start on the learning curve! :)

  3. Mimi, I'm impressed but wondering why you (and others) are going through such trouble when there are such awesome videos available online for almost any topic? I realize you may want to customize for your class and your teaching style... but is it worth the extra time and effort?

  4. Hey Julia,

    Yes!!! I think the value of making the video, for me, is being able to explain things in a consistent way, in a way that builds in memory cues. For example, it's not a coincidence that I decided to ramble on a bit in the Part 2 video with an analogy about joining clubs. It's the same analogy I had used in class and seen kids nod their heads about. That's something that works for them and will help clarify exactly what I mean when I say intersection. It's also not a coincidence that I drew two number lines in order to compare them for domain intersection; there were a few kids in class who understood it after I had broken it down that way. Those are triggers I'm building in, for my kids, with things that I know would work for them.

    Also, if you put yourself in my kids' shoes, are they more likely to watch a video that I make, when they know me and are used to how I explain things in class? Or are they more likely to watch some random math video link I send them?

    That's definitely worth making a 10-minute video, I think. (But we'll have to wait and see how the kids respond, anyway. You just never know these things.)