Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Document Camera AHA! Moment

Recently I spent a day at a school working with teachers on ways to integrate Document Cameras(doc cams) into their instructional day more so that just as an expensive overhead. While you can still use your overhead resources, a doc cam offers teachers so much more. As I have talked about in other blog posts our school district has put a lot of time and effort into designing a 21st Century classroom solution. The solution include a doc cam for the teacher to use that is connected to the computer and can be use independently as well as with software on/through the computer.

As the workshop went on and our discussions started to focus in on the participants content areas I asked them what do they do in their classroom. Looking for specific types of responses I waited to see what would happen. A teacher spoke up and said they wanted to help their students go to college. I asked the teacher if the students knew what to expect in the process of applying to colleges. The teacher talked about what they did in the classroom from helping the students to fill out applications and getting documentation ready to send off to colleges.

I took over the conversation then and asked her how she helped them with the applications. Did you know that you can put the FAFSA form under the doc cam and focus in on a section of the application to help the students fill them out easier. The next question was, have you contacted an Admissions Dept. at a local University to talk with your students, because your doc cam can be used as a webcam? I immediately saw eyes lighting up and ears turning towards me. "I did not know that the doc cam could do that." "I had not thought about using the doc cam like that." As the conversation continued a teacher commented what could they do since they were a coach and taught PE. Immediately I asked them if there are some of his students that do not know how to dribble a basketball or soccer ball, or serve a volleyball. He said well yes there are. I responded with the fact he could use the doc cam to video tape another student performing the proper technique to dribble a soccer ball or serving a volleyball. A basic "How To" video made to help out the students. Another teacher spoke up and said I could video tape a student demonstrating proper bowing technique for Orchestra class. Another teacher said that, with a little prodding, how about video taping a mock business plan interview for critique and student review.

The light bulb lit up above each persons head and they all began talking about what they could do with the doc cam in their classroom. Even though they have had the doc cam in their classroom they just needed a little focus and encouragement, a spark to get them thinking of ways they can adapt their curriculum to incorporate the doc cam. At the end of the workshop many of the teachers came up to me and thanked me. Some said that they had never even thought about using their doc cam in the ways we talked about while other said they had never even turned theirs on yet.

There are doc cams in pretty much all of our schools in some form or another currently. If you are reading this post you may not have one but have seen one in the school before. Maybe this will spark something in you to go search out that doc cam in the building or to look at the one in your room differently. Maybe you need some more information about how to use them or some other ideas. I have created a Live Binder, linked below, on ways that you can use doc cams in your classroom as well as some general information from many of the companies that make them. Take a look for yourself and if you have questions you can ask your local on-site Technology Facilitator as well you have access to a District Instructional Technologist for your school that can help answer questions too. As well there are handouts and videos on how to use your doc cam in Learning Village our District Curriculum Warehouse. To find the information click on Resources under Curriculum and then Technology Resources.

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