by Steve Peterson, DMS 5th Grade Teacher
A few years ago ace-colleague, Heath Kelley, converted me to Google Apps and I came to love the comment features in them. I do most of my work in Google Apps now, but I still struggle with making sure my teacher tone is appropriate in my written comments and that I’m specific and detailed enough to make a difference for learners.
Sometimes in my written comments, I find that I’m not reacting authentically as a reader, something that assessment guru, Dylan Wiliam, suggests is crucial to effective feedback. Instead I react as a judge. I wished I could encourage and point out the good stuff that is happening in student work AND the next steps that I see without that dreaded evaluative tone coming out in my written comments. How can I provide better “comments alone” response that learning research suggests inspires learners to be more intrinsically motivated?
On Twitter, recently, I read about teachers (@alicekeeler, for instance) who used a Chrome extension, ScreenCastify, to provide feedback to students. I’m writing to report that I’m trying it out, too. As you can see from the example below, I record myself talking while I’m scrolling through the student’s work.
I’m able to speak specifically about things that I see and how I react to them; I think I’m also able to be a little more human in my presentation. Tone and specificity mean a lot. And we all know that learners do better if they feel that they have been heard, understood, and taken seriously.
My protocol is to scan the student work with my rubric in mind. I pick out the 1-2 main ideas that I’d like to get across and highlight these in the text. I might add a short phrase using the comment feature to help me and the student locate and remember the spots I want to comment on.
I make sure that I spend some time on issues that the learner is doing well, or I have seen improvement, so I can notice and name what I see a learner trying to do, as Peter Johnston talks about in his terrific book, Choice Words. I record my thoughts on ScreenCastify as I go.
One thing that makes ScreenCastify so easy to use is that it automatically places the video in a Google Drive folder (which it creates for you!) and then it generates an easily accessible shareable link without you having to leave the recording page. I copy the link and paste it in the student’s work, or in private comments. Simple.
The student can listen to the recording while they follow along with my comments. Students have said that screencast is sometimes more helpful than a face-to-face conference because they have a record of the conversation that they can listen to again.
Since the extension is so easy to use, I am also experimenting with students using it as a tool for their own reflection. So far I’ve had them explain their work to me regarding a visually-based project. They take a photo of the project and walk me through their thinking process.
Next steps include using the tool as a way to reflect on their portfolio of student work that they are creating using Google Sites. My ultimate goal is to help students become more reflective, thoughtful, and intentional about the choices they make and the work they do.
If you have any insights on how you are using screencasting for feedback or for student reflection, I’d love to hear it. Also, if you’d like help setting ScreenCastify up and their videos don’t do it for you, drop me a line and I’ll help you.
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