By Susan Washburn, Assistant Director of Communications @ Ravenscroft School
Originally appeared in May 2012  eReport. Re-printed with Permission.

You’re in the team bus headed for the away game. Your headphones are on and you’re watching a video on screen.

Nothing too unusual here, except that what’s in your ears is your math teacher’s voice and what’s in front of your eyes is all the equations and graphs that she wrote on the classroom SmartBoard or her tablet today.

“Upper School math teachers are using video instruction as a resource for students who have missed a class or who can benefit from hearing and seeing the instruction again as they do their homework or prepare for exams,” explained Janine Wood, Upper School math department chair.

Although video instruction has been used for several years, new technology is making it easier and more accessible. All instructors have posted video instruction for their students, and several use it regularly. According to Wood, the department is working toward posting more videos and some teachers are working toward posting instruction prior to class, sometimes called a flipped classroom, so that students absorb the lesson on their own and then come to class prepared with more specific questions.

“That way the students are using the teacher as a very different resource,” explained Wood, “we can fine-tune their understanding and clarify the instruction.”

“Video instruction has been well-received by the students. So often when they walk into class the first thing they say is, ‘You are recording this, right?'” said Wood. “I even had a visit from a recent graduate who asked if he could get the link to the videos to help him with his college math class.”

Chris Brajer ’13 commented: “When you are sick, it makes you feel even worse knowing that you are getting behind in your classes. But with the class videos in math, I can keep up with the class and not have to worry about lagging behind.”

Students access the video instruction through Ravenscroft’s Google Apps for Education account. Since the videos are uploaded to Google’s video service they are very accessible, and can be viewed on PCs, Macs, Chromebooks, iPads and even iPhones all through a student’s campus network account.

Another application of the video instruction is to provide lessons for substitute teachers when needed. “If I can’t be in class, the sub can play my video instruction and then answer student questions and help them work out some of the math problems in class,” said Wood.

One of the most helpful features of the video instruction is that, like movies on DVD or streamed online, they are viewable by scenes. “Students don’t have to watch the entire video; they can choose to watch just the problem or two that they need to review,” said Wood.

Video tutorials are also available for students through Ravenscroft’s internal Google Video site. Last summer, five members of the Upper School math faculty, Ann Carroll, Cathy Hairr, Mike Erikson, Ed Durham, and Janine Wood, received a grant through the Ravenscroft Excellence in Teaching Summer Institute to work on these tutorials. During this time they recorded 34 videos of typical math instruction, such as factoring, writing equations of circles, and solving systems of equations. Those videos are available for students, and more videos will eventually be added to the library.

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