Video Study Group notes

Last night six of us met in a video study group and I am really excited with how things are working out.  I made the classic mistake of overplanning and we only got to one presenter out of the two we had scheduled, but we’re working out the details as we go.  As we work out the technical kinks (audio feedback, getting microphones to work) things will move along better, but even with all that I learned a lot.

After watching a video clip in which the teacher went through a picture sequence with the class, we discussed a number of ways to get student involvement more, a problem we all face.  One great tip I hadn’t thought about involved using hand-signals to cue responses: put your hand up to the 12:00 position when asking a question and then dropping it down ninety degrees to the 3:00 position when you want your students to let the responses flow.

Another tip involved having the students start drawing out the story when attention starts to flag as a way of staying in the moment with a different angle; if students can’t engage in a verbal arena, shift the playing field to give them another chance to succeed while keeping the structures centered.  The discussion then took that idea and worked with it a while until it morphed into the possibility of even having some students do parallel cartoon stories–alternate versions of the core details–that could be used for comparison and contrast.  I particularly liked the practical suggestions of opening up new ways for students to get involved so as to pluralize the involvement.

So after all the glitches and timing and things that can improve, I not only love seeing each other’s classrooms doing things I wouldn’t have thought of (not to mention classroom setup; one whole wall was just covered with student pictures), but really enjoy seeing where the conversations go in developing ideas and helping me get out my own mental comfort zone.  It’s really a two-stage “aha” moment, first in learning from watching someone else teach and then in jointly learning new wrinkles on how to accelerate the learning curve on the adjustments we all have to make.  Great stuff.

3 responses to “Video Study Group notes

  1. I hope you’re going to want to continue doing this next year, Nathan, because I want to join in after the over-extension of this year ends…I am betting that you are going to have more people wanting in too after they read this.


  2. Hi Nathan,
    Can you explain what “a video clip in which the teacher went through a picture sequence with the class”? Was this a tprs circles/questioning story? A writing output exercise? A speaking output exercise? A listening exercise? It wasn’t clear to me.

    Thanks, Jody


  3. Hi Jody,

    The picture sequence was part of a textbook series that provided a number of pictures shown on the overhead to be used in conjunction with TPRS. The teacher’s challenge then was to work their way through the vocabulary pictures and find ways to personally adapt them to her students’ interests and find ways to build variety into them. The teacher videotaped herself teaching that sequence and we discussed it afterwards. So, it aligns more closely with circling/questioning, but it wasn’t an organized story as much as it was a collection of vignettes.

    Actually, watching this got me to thinking about doing something similar by recycling some pictures that my students have drawn up for me over the course of the school year. I would identify the target phrases (probably from our word list that need some more reps), show the picture on the projector and ask them to build stories out of them. We could do that on a vignette-style basis, or I would give them the challenge to link multiple pictures into an overarching storyframe; sort of like a crowdsourced progressive story.

    On the whole, I think that for this year our numbers are pretty stable at 6-7 participants. Any more than that and it would be tough to find enough space for everybody to comment freely. Looking to next year, I would be interested in continuing, but if there is wider interest than just the standard 6-7 slots, it would probably be best to create another group as well. As it stands we are meeting every other week (which is easier to fit into everybody’s packed schedules) so if another group were created I would just run them on alternating weeks.


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