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.