My wife recently had back surgery. She has been out of school for over a month. As any good teacher this makes her nervous and she worries about her content being delivered properly(she teaches 8th grade Algebra) as various subs come in to teach her class.
Recently, she had a lesson that really needed to teach. She had been grading papers at home and knew that she had to cover the material her way. She felt it was important for students to hear her voice and hear how she would teach the content.
This is where the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 or Surface 3 (both we have used) came in super handy. My wife is not super tech savvy. She is beyond intelligent, but tech is not a passion of hers like it is mine. I had her try out the Surface devices knowing that she would love it.
She found it very easy to bring her teaching to her students.
The first thing she did was pull up her Word document out of Dropbox.We loaded the document up with Word Online so there was no need to download anything to the hard drive.
Next, we queued up Screen Cast O Matic to record the screen. (If there is something easier and better please let me know). This tool is free and allows you to record to up to 15 minutes of screen time. It is super easy to use and requires very little setup.
I gave her a very brief run through of the pen and how she can write normally and how to erase.
She then hit record and took off.
Overall, she was quite impressed with the device and pen. She was also nice enough to allow me to share the video she made so you can see the pen and math teaching in action. She is not a fan of sharing her work although she should be as she does great things in her classroom.
A couple things that are important to note.
1. The pen feels about as natural as anything on the market right now. It really has a feel of a real pen and makes writing very smooth and easy to write and make sense of the writing.
2. Your videos don’t have to be perfect. It is important to keep that human touch to your videos. My wife made two new videos just the other day and in one of the videos she messed up where she was trying to scroll up and instead kept making red colored marks on the screen. Instead of deleting and starting over she decided to keep it. The kids loved it. We are not perfect and it is okay to show those moments. You don’t have to be perfect.
Check the video out around 4 minute mark for an example.
3. Once your videos are made be sure to load to YouTube where you can keep them stored and students always have access. This frees up your hard drive and allows for instant access all the time for students.
4. Screen Cast O Matic is not perfect. The 15 minute limit is not ideal if you need to get more ideas down. It is free and simple, but I realize there are better options out there. I need to explore this more in the future.
5. My wife also made note that the pen can be even more powerful as you can switch colors of the ink. This is quite helpful in teaching. For example, when she teaches concepts in the classroom on her whiteboard she uses different markers to differentiate between like terms when simplifying polynomials. This can be done on the Surface by switching colors of the pen.
You can also show students how to take notes by highlighting, circling, and underlining. This can also be done quite easily using the Surface and the pen.
6. Before you hit record and start your lesson and what it is that you are teaching you must be prepared. This is not live and students cannot ask questions like they would in the classroom. So, you must work out the problems or your work ahead of time. Think of the potential roadblocks that students will run into with the material you are teaching.
When Amanda was preparing she had the problems worked out ahead of time. She had notes scribbled on her paper with key pieces that she knew kids needed to be aware of. Have your notes in front of you. While she was recording she could reference her notes and work so she would not leave anything out and could ensure the video would be as thorough as possible.
Just like a classroom lesson you must prepare and go through the material before you teach it to students.
7. With so much change in teaching and learning with Common Core these videos can allow parents and the community to see how teaching practices are changing. It allows them to understand the new ways of learning and teaching. They will have a glimpse of the classroom so they can understand the process.
8. Using the Surface to develop your lessons can be helpful for students who are out sick. It is great for students who need to process at their own pace and need to pause and work at their speed of learning.
9. It is a powerful tool for new teachers. New teachers can watch the video to see how veteran teachers are covering the material. It provides real examples to help them to improve their craft.
Once again, I see so much great potential for the Surface product line. It is easy to bring your teaching to life and connect with students. You can use the device for flipped learning, when you need to teach from afar, or to just practice your teaching prior to teaching.
What questions or ideas do you have? Leave a comment on what you think and how you are using Surface or Surface Pro 3 to enhance teaching. You can check out my previous posts