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Teaching Tip: Video recording lessons over time

Michele Dufresne

If you have been following the blog series I have been writing about Maddie, a seven-year-old I am teaching long distance, you will notice that I have been doing a lot of video recording. The other day, I watched a number of clips I made during the writing part of lessons. I was immediately struck by how powerful it was for me as a teacher to review just one aspect of the learning process over time. I am urging you to get yourself a video camera and use it to regularly to record your lessons. I am using a very small video camera called a Flip. There are a few different brands that carry small cameras like it.

Whether you are an intervention teacher working one-on-one (Reading Recovery), or a classroom or reading teacher working with small groups, this is a tool that can give you huge amounts of information that will inform your teaching.

For example, I watched a number of examples of Maddie using sound boxes. Hearing sounds has been a strength for Maddie right from the beginning, yet when I reviewed some clips I realized the tasks had not gotten well established. Therefore, I was not getting the payoff I had expected. Once I saw where I needed to better focus my teaching, the change was amazing. 

With my videos of Maddie, I can now look at all kinds of things: How has her fluency changed over time? Can I see her searching for information at difficulty and how is she searching? How do the prompts I use match up with what she needs to do? Is my prompting changing? Am I encouraging more independence? Oh my! I can think of a zillion things to look at!

Teaching is complex. Using video recording over time can help us do a better job of observing our students' learning as well as our own teaching so that we can be doing the best possible work we can.

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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