Flippin’ Marvellous: Using Video in the Classroom
The education system is changing rapidly, with forward-thinking teachers making the most of new media to engage their pupils in learning. New Media Knowledge caught up with one head teacher to learn how he had used video to great effect in the classroom.
Schools are fast cottoning on to the possibilities posed by new media technology in the classroom, projects which are often led by forward-thinking teachers. One set of children benefiting from new media are the pupils of Priestsic Primary and Nursery School in Sutton-in-Ashfield, near Nottingham.
Tom Barrett is assistant headteacher at the school and leads the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) subject at Priestsic. He regularly blogs and tweets about new media in education, particularly his use of Flip Video, so NMK thought it was time we caught up with Barrett to see what he was up to.
How have you found that video benefits young children’s learning?
Flip has acted as a great catalyst to existing good practice. The children have been motivated and engaged with simple technology. Anything that has a visual element that requires refinement speeds up learning. Children can watch back their gym routine for example and immediately see how to improve. It has engaged all learners – children have responded well to the simple technology and picked it up immediately, drawing upon their expertise with mobile and handheld technology. The technology does not get in the way of the process of learning, but becomes more and more transparent – giving the children and staff a greater focus on the learning going on.
What do you use Flip Video for in the classroom?
In year one, we recorded Victorian Day at school and used it for recount writing. We created a set of instructions for using the cameras. Staff and teaching assistants also created talking stories.
In year two, we filmed children making salads, which was linked to literacy and science, and used films to write instructions. We also filmed pets for use in describing animals in poetry and filmed children in dance and drama lessons.
In year three students are filmed making 3D structures from nets, which is watched back to support instruction writing. We documented a trip to Perlethorpe outdoor activity centre and a Viking drama workshop in school.
Year four focuses on drama and roleplay, and reviewing performances. We also recording method for a science experiment on the best insulating material entitled “How to keep snow cold”.
Year five learns interviews during maths by children and teachers asking children to explain their methods in their work. We documented the school trip and children interviewed their peers during the day, so the footage was used in Moviemaker to recount films of the day. We recorded and reviewed storytelling work, thereby refining the process. Children record each other and then watch it back, repeat and refine.
In year six we ran ‘Shape TV’, where children interview each other in the role of a quadrilateral. We also filmed science experiments and children’s predictions of the results. We timed talks in literacy on a specific subject and practice interviewing each other.
How have the teachers taken to using video?
Teachers have found it simple and effective to use in the classroom and beyond. The ease with which staff can record activities and learning going on in the classroom makes video very accessible to them.
Filming children is a sensitive area. One hears stories of some schools banning videos and cameras at school plays and the like – how have parents responded to the use of video? Any concerns?
We have no concerns about the use of video within school as it is currently only used within our establishment. Parents have the opportunity each year to indicate to school administrators that they would prefer not to allow their children to be filmed. I think this issue is an important one and perhaps is even more so for schools regularly posting on school blogs and websites. However simple common sense helps define the use of video in primary schools as the child's safety and wellbeing is always central to what we do.
Has your local authority (LA) been supportive of your teaching techniques and do you hope they will spread to other schools?
We have not had any direct communication with the LA about the way we have been using the Flip cameras to support existing good practice. I have written about the ways we have begun to use them on my blog, which is a great way to share and spread the ideas to other schools. Additionally I began a collaborative Google presentation via Google Docs that allows teachers from across the world to contribute interesting ideas for using pocket video cameras in the classroom. There are currently 39 different ideas and it is growing all the time, it proved a valuable resource to share with my own staff when introducing the use of the cameras to help spark some ways to use them.
The use of podcasts has been proven to improve learning at some US universities – do you plan to use podcasting in the same way with your students?
We haven't any specific plans at the moment to make whole school podcasts, however with the variety of uses of podcasting to support learning and the wealth of free open source tools to do so, it perhaps is a good time to start.
What other social media have you been using to promote learning?
With my own class I have been using Twitter in a wide variety of different contexts. One of the most successful examples of this was during an ICT/Geography lesson; I invited my Twitter network to challenge the children in my class to find them using Google Earth. It was going to be a session on a simple introduction to the features of Google Earth for my class but I decided to give it a human edge. [Pictured] are some of the challenges that rolled in from teachers in my network.
We then set the children the task of finding where these teachers were and of course we needed to provide them with feedback proving we had done it. So when we found one school with a large American football field we responded with the name of team emblazoned on the pitch that was visible in Google Earth.
This is just one of the many different ways Twitter can be used to support learning in the classroom. Once again I have written about most of my experiences on my blog.