Do Screencasts Have a Place in the Math Classroom?

Last November, I wrote a short blog post titled, Screencasts of Student Math Thinking. In this post, I also included a link to a glog I created containing four screencasts that were created by grade 6 students explaining their group’s multiplication strategies after an initial multiplication lesson. Since that post, there has been a lot of attention around the world on Kahn Academy where students learn from concepts and strategies from videos (screencasts).

I love the idea of screencasting and I think what Kahn Academy is attempting to do is pretty cool. However, I love screencasts even more when they are created by students. When students create math screencasts it enhances their metacognition. It forces them to think about their math thinking not once but multiple times since they can play back their video, watch and listen to themselves explain their strategy or solution. They can edit and record multiple times until they feel that their screencast is appropriate for their classmates to view. The rest of the class can also benefit from screencasts because they can be exposed to different solutions and strategies to the same problem. In addition, the screencasts are more engaging by virtue of them being created by students and using student language. Also, with websites like Screencast.com screencasts are not limited to the hard drive of a single classroom computer but can be accessed via web link from any computer with an internet connection. This would allow students and their parents/guardians to view them from home.

I truly believe in the benefits of screencasting for students in the math classroom. For the past year, I have been religiously promoting it in my school board as a great tool to enhance student metacognition and math communication. Many teachers seem to like the idea of it but I haven’t really seen it fully implemented in classroom. I’ve mainly seen teachers create their own screencasts similar to Kahn Academy and no disrespect to Khan Academy or to teachers but I don’t find teacher/adult generated screencasts very interesting or engaging. I would argue that students prefer to create the screencasts themselves and watch other student created screencasts. So I ask the question Why? Why isn’t screencasting being implemented in the math classroom? Is it too difficult? Too time-consuming?

I’ve embedded the glog that I created mentioned earlier of student created screencasts of their multiplication strategies below.

I would love to know your thoughts on screencasting and how you would implement it in your classroom.

5 thoughts on “Do Screencasts Have a Place in the Math Classroom?

  1. Thomas,

    I really enjoyed reading about your experiences with screencasting in the classroom. I started using Jing last year, with great success, but all of the screencasts were made by me. After seeing what your students did with their math screencasts, I plan to try the same with my Grade 6 students this term. I would like to know how you managed the process of having the students make their own screencasts. Any details would be helpful and much appreciated.

    Peter in Vancouver

    1. Hi Peter,

      Thanks for commenting. I found that when the students first tried to record a screencast from scratch, they were lost for words and had difficulty collecting their thoughts. So as a scaffold, I took pictures of their solutions that they collaboratively solved on paper and brought them up on a computer screen for students to speak to. The students found this particularly useful since they could easily recall and speak to their solution. As the students become more confident, screencasts could be recorded in real-time and become more creative (like the ones on http://mathtrain.tv). Since the students worked collaboratively on the solutions, a representative from each group was nominated and recorded the screencast. Depending on the access of equipment in your classroom this student screencasts could be recorded in different ways. If you have access to a few laptops, then each group can record their screencast soon after they solve their problem. If you only have a single classroom computer, then the screencasts can be recorded through out the day as the computer is available.

      Hope that helps.

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