In my AP Calculus AB class, for final projects, I had students create video solutions to past free response questions. For about a month, I have students review for the AP Exam — doing practice multiple choice questions and solving past free response questions. I thought that it would be nice for my current students to create a video library of well explained solutions to help next year’s students prepare for the exam.
Before I continue with the specifics, a quick preview of the final project I will be talking about:
The most magical thing about taking the lecture outside of the classroom, for me, is just how much time I was able to create to “play”. While I was running out of time to even get through lectures before flipping, I now have some extra time to play around every once in a while :) We have been using iPads all year for student-created videos. I have a set of them in my classroom for students to use. We use ScreenChomp to do the screencasting, along with a BoxWave stylus.
I see a lot of value in having the students create videos and requiring them to talk out their work. As teachers, we all know there is no better way to learn than to teach. Explaining a topic forces the student to truly understand the why behind their steps. So while I see huge value in this activity, I can’t say that students particularly enjoyed it at the beginning. The first time I asked them to make videos, the process was a bit cumbersome, so that was part of the problem. By that, I mean that they were having trouble writing legibly on the iPad. Keep in mind, we’re talking some complex equations, and the difficulty was mainly with trying to write small and including subscripts/superscripts/etc. Plus, to them, it often times seemed like making videos took too much time.
I also experimented with an activity where I asked students to watch at least one classmate’s video and comment on it. That only went okay. Some of them had good constructive feedback or were able to catch a small mistake in their classmate’s work, but all in all, it was a bit difficult for them. Especially because they weren’t “masters” of the concepts yet, they sometimes ended up confused. Which was a good learning experience in and of itself, something that we could talk out and discuss in class, but it didn’t feel comfortable on their end… Which brings me to the other issue: time. Remember, I decided to flip my class to reduce anxiety in the classroom and decrease the work load. So introducing more work to an already busy student life didn’t quite feel right. And doing the watching/commenting in class would have been too chaotic (not enough computers or headsets, at least not this year). Students also felt that more video watching (student videos on top of my videos) was just too much. I agree with them. So I think that in AP Calculus next year, I will use the videos more as an assessment tool and perhaps curate some of the “best” to use as review and to hold onto for future students.
But that brings me to the final video making project, which students actually really enjoyed! Probably because the stress was off and also because I’ve improved the process as I’ve learned. For the final project, instead of having students write on the screen as they solved the problem, I had them work out the problem on a piece of paper ahead of time, neatly written below a copy of the problem itself. The first benefit to this is that they carefully thought out the work ahead of time. After they were done with that step, we took a picture of the work using the iPads. This picture was placed into ScreenChomp as the background and students were ready to begin recording. They used the stylus to circle, shade, and draw quick sketches or equations as they talked through their already written work. This worked much better and I think the reason they enjoyed it more was two-fold: 1. they didn’t have to deal with the annoyances of writing on the iPad and 2. they were better prepared going into it since they had carefully worked the problem ahead of time. The second point is one we know well as teachers. Stepping into a classroom without a sound plan doesn’t always turn out best :) We discussed this point! The only problem was that the camera quality/lighting combined with the fact that some students stretched the image made some of the writing a bit blurry…
So that brings me to the final product, which can most easily be viewed on my Haiku site: Student Solutions – AP Calculus AB Free Response Questions
All in all, these projects were quite well done and I am excited to have all of these to share with my classes next year. Please share any comments or suggestions you may have. This is a work in progress and something new that I am playing around with. I look forward to continuing to improve the process!