Working Examples

My Goldilocks Problem: I need to solve example problems but hate doing it during class. I’m unhappy with the pace — it’s either too fast or too slow. Nothing seems just right for a good chunk of my class. Oh yeah, and a little thing called differentiated instruction.

My resources: 1-to-1 laptops and most kids also have iPhones or other smartphones. I have a HoverCam document camera, a YouTube account, and plenty of notebook paper.

How I am solving my Goldilocks Problem:

  1. Decide what problems are appropriate to film yourself solving. These probably aren’t trivial examples. Recording these examples can be time consuming, so I don’t want to lead you down a path with you thinking it’s all roses and puppy dogs. You could probably scan the completed solution and post it faster.
  2. Crack open a can of Vanilla Coke Zero, gather meaty sample problems, and turn on your document camera.
  3. Start recording, solve problem on paper while talking your way through it. I even have an example to show you.
  4. Post recording to video host of your choice — I’ve used YouTube and Schoology to test this out. Files can be quite large, so storage on something like Schoology may be problematic over the course of a year (64 Mb for approx 3 minutes at a YouTube type resolution). 
  5. Share links with kids. Ooh, storm in brain! What if the titles or video descriptions included a hint as to when the video would be useful? For example, “Solving for frequency when wavelength and velocity are given”.

Advantages of this approach:

  • Pen(cil) on paper is familiar for me, handwriting quality is high, and gesturing to stuff on screen is natural.
  • Students can see me model appropriate calculator use (multiplication in the denominator of a fraction will get ’em every time).

I’m considering a hybrid approach for the next homework set — I’ll solve all the problems and only record the ones I suspect will be harder for the kids to understand. All solutions will be posted as a PDF alongside the recordings.