I really love those “aha” moments in education. But there’s a part of me that can’t stop feeling “uh oh” when a week later the “aha” seems to have vanished. For a while I’ve been trying to figure out ways to help students to retain the knowledge gains that we make in sessions, but I find it’s always a challenge to inspire them to look over their notes, and even if they do I often get the feedback that “I looked at my notes but I couldn’t remember it!”.
So for the past month or so I’ve been trialling a new system, Screencasting. Essentially I just record the tutoring session with my students and then they have a video of the whole session. Save it with a name that includes the topics/things that you covered and they have a great resource that they can go back to at any time.
Rather than laboriously explain how I do it I’ve included an excerpt from a recent session below. For a bit of context, Ben (who gave me permission to use this clip) is one of my 1 on 1 tutoring students. We have a 1hr session together every week and we work together on Physical Science, his year 11 Physics/Chemistry unit. Ben is 17. This segment of our recent session includes us looking at the relationship between acceleration and velocity graphs, a question from a recent pop quiz. I’m writing and we’re working through the question together.
As with all approaches there are downsides, one of the key things that I’ve noticed is that the student doesn’t actually get to physically do the writing. I do my best to overcome this by “leaving them hanging” and ensuring that I don’t write things for them, and encouraging them to point to the parts on the screen that they want me to mark or to “tell me what to write” (see 1 min and 50 seconds in the video). That said, I will often pause or finish the video and work on a few example problems with the student, allowing them to get their hands dirty.
Aside from the obvious advantage of Ben being able to review the whole session when he gets home, or at any time for that matter, screencasting sessions enables me to critique my own teaching. Watching this clip over provided one clear insight to me in particular. I found that often after I present a piece of information Ben says “oh yeah” or “yep” as though he immediately understands the point or concept. I had a student last year who did this frequently and it was only after about 5 sessions that I realised that “oh yeah” didn’t mean “oh yeah” it meant something completely different*. This is opportunity to reflect and even have others critique your work is incredibly valuable (I’d love any feedback on my tutoring style by the way : )
Additionally to the video I also save the document on which we write as a jpg and store both of them together in a “Screencasts” folder that Ben and I share through Dropbox. The document provides a quick reference/memory jogger for Ben as well as a sort of “index” that he can refer to if he wants to find “that thing we were working on one time” a little quicker (see the example of this full lesson jpg down the bottom)
I’d love to hear your reflections on the pros and cons of this approach and how you do similar things in your own classrooms or private tutoring sessions. If there’s a bit of interest I’d also be happy to do a blog post on the technology I use to make these screencasts, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*It actually meant “I am currently a performance goal orientated student rather than a mastery goal orientated student. This means that I am more concerned about you thinking that I understand than I am about actually understanding. Therefore I’ll go to lengths to keep up the charade that I understand, even to the detriment of my education”. This was a big lesson for me last year, and one that I now realise I can bring forward to my teaching this year. I’ll do this next time by encouraging students to rephrase the conclusion rather than interjecting with “yep” and to more frequently ask “can you please explain to me why that’s the case?” or something to that effect. If