Visible Documentation

Yesterday I had the privilege of working with some primary/junior teachers for a math PD session.  I asked the teachers to think of a rich task using a concept that they were working on.  Then to select a student who seemed to have some misconceptions about the concept and conference with that student focusing on some appropriate questions to help clear up those misconceptions.   I also asked them to record the conference, if possible.  The visible documentation of the student’s learning was incredible to watch.  We were able to really capture why the student came up with the misconception and see that there was still some level of understanding but they needed some help to completely grasp the concept.  It was great as well to watch the facial expressions of the students to see when they were puzzled by the teacher’s questions or even when the ‘aha’ moment actually came.  Through talks with my friend @avivaloca a chat today with @nobleknits2 I am becoming more and more a fan of that visible documentation.  While watching the video, it also helped to go back and listen again to make sure that we understand what the student was trying to share.  It also help us understand that in some cases  these misconceptions came from learning that the student had about one concept but applied it in an incorrect way to another one.  We were also able to compare the students’ written output with the taped conferences and realised that the students had a greater level of understanding than was perceived by their answers.  What do you think of videotaping your students’ learning?   Do you think that it is a worthwhile activity to use?  Do you use questioning during conferences to help clear up their misconceptions?

About jcorbinh

I am a grade 8 teacher who absolutely love teaching language and math and would find it extremely stressful if I had to choose between the two. After 20 years of teaching I am still passionate about my job and enjoy learning new things with and from my students. I try to incorporate new things to motivate and encourage my students and integrating more technology into my lessons has become one of my major goals.
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2 Responses to Visible Documentation

  1. Kristi Keery Bishop says:

    Documentation of student learning is so important – both for capturing student learning but also to support our own development and reflection of teacher practices. I’ve been listening to a few documentation experts recently talk about finding the balance between documentation and interaction and engagement. This one is tough – it’s like the parent who videotapes every dance performance without ever seeing it “live”. So, my question for you is, as you encourage and support documentation, how do you help educators find a balance of documenting and interacting?

  2. As you know, Jo-Ann, I’m a very big fan of videotaping students, so that I can go back, listen to their thinking (and listen to my questioning), and plan ahead. I often learn just as much about myself, as a teacher, as I do about my students. I definitely love using questions to help students figure out errors on their own. Sometimes it’s a challenge to figure out the best questions to ask, so that I’m not leading them to the answer. I try to think of some questions in advance, but sometimes, students interpret them differently than I think, and I have to rephrase them. I always wonder if, when I rephrase them, I keep them open-ended enough. I also worry about wait time. Sometimes I think that I’m quick to rephrase, but with just a little extra time, students would figure things out without changing or adding to my questions. Often when I sit back and listen to the recordings, I realize things that I wish I realized at the time. I wonder if others feel the same way, and what they do to change this.

    Great to see you blogging again!

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