I recently watched a group of kids in the park who were practicing their dance moves. They were using cellphones to play the music and record the dance routine. After each try they huddled around the phone to assess their performance. This really brought the concept of using multi-media for formative assessment to my attention. (Unfortunately this picture isn’t of the actual students that I watched because I didn’t have my camera handy at the time.)
After all these years it finally dawned on me that the power of audio and video in the classroom is really in formative assessment. I spent too much time as an instructional leader promoting grand projects with comprehensive rubrics where students created presentations with all the bells and whistles. Don’t get me wrong, these were valuable learning activities, but I now realize that quick and dirty uses can be so effective. It’s all about portability and ease of use. Forget spending big bucks on fancy equipment and focus on providing teachers and students with access to flip cameras, cellphones, Voice Thread, Audacity, inexpensive digital cameras, etc. If the tools become easy to use, right away, you can’t get better feedback than that. One of my favorite expressions from my days as a basketball coach is “the videotape doesn’t lie”.
- the drama and dance teachers to record snippets of students acting and show it to them immediately.
- the language teachers to record students speaking or presenting.
- the math teachers to record students solving or explaining complicted problems.
- the science teachers to have students record their lab work.
- the physical education teachers to record the students in action.
- the band director to record rehearsals.
and on, and on,…
As a principal that tries to model appropriate uses of technology I recently used Audacity to record a Skype job interview that I was involved in. I used the audio recording to go back and review how well I handled myself. Excellent feedback for me that will help me with future interviews.
Understanding this concept helps me be a better instructional leader.