Peer Instruction 3.0 – When students do the teaching…with video

Inaugural Neighborhood Innovators: Bretzmann, Cernaro, Lovdahl, Morris, Thomasson (Left to Right)

Inaugural Neighborhood Innovators: Bretzmann, Cernaro, Lovdahl, Morris, Thomasson (Left to Right)


The Neighborhood is a special  Turn To Your Neighbor series where we invite innovative educators from around the globe to discuss a variety of education topics. 

In this inaugural post of The Neighborhood, five classroom teachers from across grade levels discuss what happens when students teach each other using video. This strategy takes Peer Instruction to a fascinating new level.

Turn to Your Neighbor Asks: As the flipped classroom becomes more and more prevalent in education, teachers are finding new ways to use video and screencasts to spark learning. Some teachers are having their students create videos and screencasts for their peers or in place of presentations or written documents. Can a student learn as much from a peer-created video as from an instructor developed video? Can they learn as much from making a video as they can from writing a paper? What is the most exciting result you have had with asking your students to create videos?

Jason Bretzmann: High School Teacher, AP Government, Muskego High School; Consultant, Bretzmann Group

Students can definitely learn as much from creating a video as from writing a paper. While it may be different, [making a video] can be as good or better. Whether students write a script first, or explain what they know from memory, they are creating. They have to know something, and be able to communicate it in order to successfully create an effective video. Creating videos may be a way for some students to be more successful in showing what they know because they may find the medium of video to be more suited to them. Making a video might also open up future career or hobby possibilities for students to consider, such as broadcast news positions or creation of family histories. Shouldn’t we give that future anchor a chance to shine?

Jason Bretzmann's student's video projects

Jason Bretzmann’s student’s video projects

It has been great to see students figuring out how to use different tools that best suit their needs and their styles. Students have used Camtasia, Jing, Tellagami, and others to create videos. I’ve given 10 second introductions, but the students have really figured the rest out on their own. They’re learning problem-solving skills, video-making skills, and showing their knowledge of the content. Plus other students get to learn from their expertise. Love it!

[See examples of Jason’s students’ creations here:  Voter Turnout Video and Don’s GoPO Projects]

Meg C: 2nd Grade Teacher, Mexico Central & Academy School District

Absolutely [students can learn as much by creating videos]! The students have primarily been creating screencasts to show/demonstrate math concepts such as bar models and multiplication. We have 12 iPads in the classroom. Students have been using the app EDUcreations to create these screencasts. I have also created them for parents to help explain concepts so they can further support their children at home. In addition to creating screencasts, students use other apps such as Tellagami and ChatterPix to create projects that further demonstrate their learning. These have been tied to our new ELA modules with the common core.

The engagement and empowerment is huge! In addition to this, the collaboration component is outstanding!

Stacy Lovdahl: Middle School Teacher, Integrated Science, Jacobs Fork Middle School

I’ve been flipping my middle school science classroom for three years and I find that most students do not retain much by just listening to videos whether they’re mine or student-created. It matters what you ask them to do with the information and even more, if you can create units in which they want or need to know the information. Active listening, note taking and in-class experiences are essential.

The comparison with writing is two fold. If a student creates an excellent paper, it can be a learning experience as rich as creating a video. However, in this age of cut and paste from the Internet, many students do not invest the mental energy to create their own writing. Video is harder to plagiarize. Video creation employs the skills of good writing, and allows students to explore other skills including speaking, acting, creating visuals, editing and music. If videos are created by teams or pairs of students, you’ve added collaboration to the experience. Is one better than the other? I say not better, just different. Good writing can evoke rich meaning, emotion, symbolism, and insight as powerfully as a creative video. Anyone who has ever teared up while reading can attest to that. The key is motivating our students to invest in the creation process, no matter which tool they use.

Student created video projects are most effective when the video has an audience other than the teacher. Peer audiences within the class or team are good, but the most exciting project I’ve done was when I was able to find a class outside my school to view and provide feedback on my students’ videos. My students were challenged by the idea that their work would be viewed by their peers in another state. They loved the feedback they received on their southern accents as much or more as the feedback on content and video quality.

[Read more about Stacy’s work here]

Cheryl Morris & Andrew Thomasson: High School English Teachers, East Bay Arts High School & Forestview High School

Morris’ and Thomasson’s student videos.

We find that, if the video making process is scaffolded up well, that student-made video can teach concepts– but probably not as well as teacher-created. That’s not how we use it, though. Almost always, we use it to capture discussion and have students prove mastery via video creation. So the answer to the second question is yes, qualified: yes, they can learn as much [from creating a video as writing a paper], but they are not necessarily learning the same things. Again, videos are more used for demonstrating mastery than “teaching,” per se.

The final video projects for our Blank White Page project (20% time) have been incredible. Also, we have had success with doing discussion on video and having students share [their videos] with each other–it gets students ALL involved.

[See examples of Cheryl’s and Andrew’s students’ work here: Ninja News  and The Science of the Egg]

and more sources here:

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