Friday, September 2, 2016

Trying New Things- The Techie Side of Teaching

I look around at young people today and it amazes me how embedded in technology their lives are; sometimes for good and sometimes not-so-good. Before school started this year, I knew I wanted to really work to incorporate new technology into my classroom so I began looking for new ideas this summer. I found way more than my brain could absorb! Faced with the rush of getting my room ready, create the first week or so of lesson plans, and attend various meetings, I knew I needed to pick one thing to start with that would be EASY! That's when I landed on Recap by the makers of Swivl.

Recap is a free, new, still somewhat in the beta testing phase, program that allows for you to assign video response questions to your "students." I decided it would be my "one thing" for now. When my students came in the first day I asked them the question, "How do you usually learn how to do something that you don't know, but want to learn?" I gave them examples like, a certain dance, how to fix something, how to cook something or create something. Their primary answers were: "I would ask someone I know that already knows how and they would teach me." or " I would 'Google' or 'YouTube' it." This is the world our students live in. If they want to know, they can find out and the best and the worst teachers are at their fingertips and through the World Wide Web. They post selfies and video clips of themselves on all kinds of social media as a way to connect with friends. This is why I thought Recap would be something that I could get them to at least try. I am still working out the kinks, but so far, I'd say it has been successful! Here are a few photos of my students using the program in the classroom.

First of all the set up as a teacher was fairly painless and then all I had to do was get my students to join the correct class. Then I played around with the Demo class they provided and figured out how to add a question and watched a couple of demo videos. All that was left was to assign a Recap assignment to my kids! The first few days, we struggled with the school's firewall and it would not allow them to record, (in the help section, there is a very specific list you can print and hand to your technology person and the firewall issue will be resolved) but I found the app and had them all download the app onto their phones and they just began using those! Here is the app icon to look for:

 I can't even explain how excited I was when my first video appeared! They did great! Even if the explanation was a little off, it was easy to see where the mistakes were being made and how to help the student improve! I also was able to assess their knowledge of precise mathematical vocabulary! So far, I am using this program once a week as a quick quiz grade and I sit at home watching them to grade them during commercial breaks of my favorite shows. Here's a couple of my students who allowed me to share their videos. I even had a limited ENglish speaker who did her entire vieo in Spanish and I had a fellow teacher translate for me! I was very proud of her for doing it even if it wasn't in English yet! We have formulated a plan for her to just pick one of the 4 questions I assing on the next RECAP and try that one in English. I know her confidence and speaking will improve so much over this year and we will have video proof of her progress! 

To me, this is an invaluable tool for formative assessment, for Exit Tickets, extensions on learning, vocabulary quizzes...the possibilities are endless! 

On top of using it in my classroom, my campus has been working hard to have a stronger presence on social media, especially on Twitter. We created a "class" for the staff and faculty of Waxahachie Ninth Grade Academy to do a recap of a quick introduction of each staff member. Our Principal has been introducing one staff member a day via Twitter using the links to their individual recap videos. 

If you are looking for an easy tool that kids will actually use and that is free, I completely recommend giving Recap a try! You get to see a little bit of the kids' personalities, it makes it much quicker to put faces with names in your classroom and they love it! I wouldn't say I am a pro by any means, but it has been fun so far.  Just go to to check it out! Follow me on Twitter @Srieper89 if you would like to see a few more videos.

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