Posted by: Kathy Cassidy | February 24, 2011

Can We Make it Work?

Over the past couple of years,  I’ve been involved with several cohorts of Powerful Learning Practice, a learning community set up by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson.  I have participated as an “experienced voice” whose job it is to share ways that I have used technology to transform my classroom.  I have  always appreciated the ways that my participation in these communities has pushed my thinking.

This year I am involved in PLP as a participant.  While I am already using technology tools to connect my class with others and have gone a long way to change the way I do things in my classroom, I am once again being pushed in my thinking.

Part of the PLP process is participation in an action research project.  I am doing this research project with four other team members from my city.  Among the five of us, we teach eight grades between grade one and ten, so we had a bit of a challenge coming up with a research project that woud apply to all of those grade levels.

In our discussions, we discovered that we were all interested in developing new ways of student assessment, and in the use of video in our classroom.  With the help of Dean Shareski, who is our “cognitive coach” in this process, we decided to focus on this question:

  • How do we develop sustainable work flow for using video to capture learning in the classroom?

Obviously, this will be a different process for each of us.

In my classroom, I have a flip video camera, and have used video as an assessment tool for a couple of years, but my use of it has been somewhat sporadic.  It has also been very teacher centered.  Even though the students take much of the video, I always uploaded any of it that I wanted to have online myself.

What I am wondering is–is it possible with six year olds to develop a work flow in which the students do the work–that is, the students do the video taping as they demonstrate their learning, upload it to the video server (my school division has its own server) and use the embed code to post it on their blogs?  Since I have made a commitment to the parents of my students to not match student pictures with names, this also means that if the video is to be posted on their blogs, the student’s faces cannot be in the video.

I have done an initial trial of this, and here are a couple of things that worked well.

1.  We used a common craft-like format to explain what we knew about needs and wants.  This meant that the students’ ideas and their voices were represented, but not their faces. You can watch an example here. (This was inspired by a video Maria Knee made with her Kinderkids last year).

2. When we uploaded, we used the students’ names as a tag so that they could find the video on the server.  This worked well, but I think we’ll have to change the tag a bit in case other teachers begin to do the same and there are duplicates of names.

3. Since most of the students could already copy and paste, putting the videos onto the blogs went fairly smoothly.

Not everything went well.  The uploading to the server was tedious and not at all interesting to many of the students. After only a few, I sent the class off to do something else and began training a “classroom expert” for this part the next time.  I’m wondering if that will work the best?  Maybe I’ll train several experts.

Have you tried this before with six year olds?  Or older students? I’d love to have your advice. I’m looking forward to having more video for assessment purposes, and want to find a way to make the process work in my classroom.



  1. I’ll be interested in following this project. Certainly using a classroom/student expert(s) is a great idea. They can focus and repeat the chore until learned.

    • Thanks, Gail. My intention is to keep blogging about this, Gail. Classroom experts have worked before (for example, copying and pasting), so I hope they will again.

  2. I was in Mali Bickleys class a few months ago and noticed a sign on the wall saying “tech-perts”, or something to that effect. This grade 6 class had supported students choosing which technology they wanted to support others with. This allowed any project to be differentiated a bit more, so students could all use different technologies and have folks in the room to turn to for support. Mali’s class blog is here:
    Hope she doesn’t mind me sharing 🙂 I just loved the idea. 🙂

    • The word “tech-perts” is indeed a good one. I love the idea of students having choice in how they show their learning, and in fact that is always my goal. For various reasons, we are not quite at that point yet in our classroom (although we are close), so all of us are presently learning about using video. My hope is that we will all learn how to use video so that it will be one more choice we have for showing our learning. I think it will be a popular choice!

  3. I use VoiceThread (VT) and Kid Blog with my 1st graders, they are amazingly independent in uploading video and pics to VT from Photobooth and the webcam. They are doing well (not as independent, they do need the aid of a tech-pert, we use this name too) when uploading video to the blog. The biggest challenge we face is compressing video taken on the flip. I still need to work on this to find the easiest way for kids to do this, I am sure there’s way! I am amazed at how independent the kids have become with creating and commenting through technology. It really is a available and used as any other tool in the classroom!

    Enjoyed your wants and needs assessment- I found myself wondering how I might try this with my kids to explain their thinking about a book. We are talking about authors message right now. I envision the kids starting with the book, the authors message and then moving characters, and events of the story into a video to show the evidence behind the their thinking.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for your comment, Deb. It is amazing what kids can do given the right supports.
    I haven’t used Kidblog, but if you are able to upload your video online, and use an embed code instead, that would eliminate the need to compress it, I think. The video would not be stored on Kidblog so it wouldn’t take up any space on their server.

  5. Hi Kathy, this is my second post to your blog for Dr. Strange’s class at South Alabama. This is mostly a learning experience for me at this point and I wish I had an idea that could help you with your project. Really, you are my teacher in this project. Your hard work on these projects are not only helping students but also the future of teaching. Since the classroom is becoming a center for technology, your work is giving wonderful new ideas to others in your field. It looks like you have spent tons of your free time doing things for others and you are setting a new level for learning with your work. Thanks again and I continue to be inspired by what you have done.

  6. This is a great action research project. When I read your blog it made me think of ways we might be able to do this using ipod touches in our school.Thanks

    • Using iPod Touches is a great idea, Rob. I hope you post what you do. I’m on the lookout for new ways to record my students using video that does not include faces.

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