At ISTE 2012 I had the pleasure of attending Jennie Magiera’s session on “Digitizing Math Metacognition: Increasing Student Problem-Solving Skills”. During this session Jennie shared with us the concept of cloning the teacher. Cloning the teacher is the process of creating independent technology based learning stations were students can review material at their own pace.
When I cloned myself in my math class I decided to make videos for my independent learning stations. I played with a bunch of different video formats but ultimately ended up using Educreations to create a majority of my videos (Look out for a future blog post about why I choose Educreations.) After a year spent cloning myself I compiled a list of pros and cons that I wanted to share with everyone.
- More time to work in small groups or one on one with students. This time was extremely helpful for my lower performing students.
- The opportunity to watch how students were reacting to the lessons. Cloning myself gave me the ability to closely watch the students’ reactions to the lesson. When I saw a confused face I knew who to go talk to.
- High levels of student engagement. I rarely had any issues with behavior last year.
- High levels of student retention. My students consistently were scoring high on their benchmark exams.
- Students have the ability to go back and review lessons at their leisure. This was also a great way to keep students who were not in the classroom in the loop of what we were learning.
- I created an archive of lessons that can be used the next year. Even though I am no longer teaching 6th grade math, I always will have these videos to refer to in the future.
- You quickly get over the fear of hearing your own recorded voice. Seriously it’s not that bad after a while. 🙂
Cons (And some words of encouragement):
- Preparing the content can be time consuming. Be prepared to put in some extra hours before or after school.
- Technical issues can ruin your whole day. Make sure that your internet connection can handle video streaming. If not look into other ways of distributing the videos.
- Admin buy in can be difficult at first. Like I said this is a change from the norm. Keep calm and clone on. It’s worth it.
Overall I was really happy with my cloning experiment. I feel like it is a great way to teach math because it allows students to go at their own pace, review when needed, and puts the work right in front of them (No more worrying about seating charts!).
If you plan on cloning yourself I would offer the following suggestions:
- Be prepared for a rough few weeks at the start. A cloned classroom is a drastic change from what our student’s our used to so it takes getting used to.
- Play around during your videos. No one likes to listen to a dull montone teacher. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come out.
- During your videos use your student’s names. This is a great way to ensure that they pay attention. If your videos are hosted on a public site stick to first names only.
- Solicit student feedback. See what’s working and what’s not working. As with everything we do, it should be of benefit to the student not just something that looks good on our resume.
If you need any help or want to ask any questions about the cloning process please feel free to contact me. So go forth now and clone yourself!
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