Friday, October 19, 2012

Get Down and start flipping with videos for primary school students

Guest post by Shawn Rubin

Whether you're flipping your classroom, or enhancing learning, there’s no denying that instructional video can be a powerful tool in the classroom.  With older students video has the ability to stimulate conversation or elucidate a complex concept, but with younger children we don’t “sit down” to watch video. We use video to “get down” or more appropriately to get up, move around the room, sing, dance, and act. In grades k-2 video is more than a digital method of conveying information it’s an engaging catalyst for learning that is used to grab attention. This allows for repetition or practice, which leads to retention of information as well as the expansion of ideas, thoughts, and conversations.

There are many skills that are valuable for early readers and mathematicians. Focused attention is important in order for that initial concept acquisition to begin. When channeled properly this focused engagement allows children who may be struggling on pencil and paper the ability to flourish through visual stimulus. Whether it’s vocabulary acquisition, concept memorization, item sequencing, story retelling, or simply learning a song, video has the power to imprint visual cues and mental bookmarks onto teacher lessons.

Unlike most teacher-centered introductions of skills and content, video has a clearly defined start and end point. Students understand that they must bring their attention forward at the time the play button is clicked and for the next few minutes they know exactly where their focus should be.

There are some great videos, like this children’s song or this nature clip that have the ability to imprint themselves in students minds the first or second time they watch them. But teachers who let the video do all the work while the children just sit and watch will ultimately limit how often video can go be used in their classrooms because eventually the new “fantastic videos” will replace the learning that was derived from the previous clips the students watched.

However, when teachers combine the power of digital media with the kinesthetic reinforcement of movement, dance, acting, sign language and finger play they double the video’s impact and give it stand-alone capability.

By creating unique movement based features for each video that enters the classroom the teacher allows the child a greater chance at recalling the content, process, or skill, while increasing the student’s ability to apply and own this learning for later application.

Shawn Rubin serves as the Director of Technology Integration at the Highlander Institute in Providence, RI. Shawn oversees the Institute’s blended learning and technology integration professional development programming. Shawn is also the CEO of Metryx, a start-up mobile software company that is building flexible assessment tools for educators to use on tablets and smartphones. Shawn began his education career as a founding faculty member of the Highlander Charter School teaching a range of grades including four years of kindergarten during his 11 years in the classroom. Shawn lives in Providence with his wife and two sons. You can find Shawn @shawncrubin or

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