This week I tried a new tool in my Medical Interventions class that will forever change the way I will show videos.  I love using great video clips or short documentaries to help reinforce a science concept.  What I don’t love is that most high school students view video lessons as a “day off” or a “free day” and fail to actually engage in the content.  Currently, we are studying bacteria and their growing resistance to antibiotics.  Lucky for us, Frontline has some AMAZING documentaries on this subject.  (You can find a link to part one here and a link to part two here.)  Because of this, I decided I would try TodaysMeet to engage the students during our feature presentation.

Some of you may be asking, “What is TodaysMeet?”  If that’s the case, you have hit the jackpot for reinforcing your video experience in class.  TodaysMeet.com is what would happen if twitter teamed up with a private chat room.  Teachers can create a “room” and share a link with users to have access.  From there, students are able to type in their name and join the chat.  Since users are limited to 140 characters, they have to be concise in their contributions to the conversation.  Here’s an example of what room will look like once it’s created.

An empty chat room waiting for students to choose a nickname and chat!
An empty chat room waiting for students to choose a nickname and chat!

What I found from my little experiment blew me away.  Let me repeat myself…IT BLEW ME AWAY!  I was able to ask questions, answer questions, expand on topics discussed in the video and I even had students asking each other questions.  (Talk about teaching nirvana!)  All the while, students were able to focus on the documentary and return to the chat “backchannel” at their leisure, thus, allowing them to stay focused and present in the class.  I will admit, on the surface, it looked as though students were off task or chatting while a video was playing.  But under the surface, the learning was off the Bloom’s Taxonomy charts.  Students were not only discussing their content knowledge but they were applying it to new situations and creating new topics.  Here are two excerpts from our conversation (Student last names have been hidden for privacy purposes):

Students question each other and engage in deeper thinking.
Students question each other and engage in deeper thinking.

 

 

Questions asked in Q1, Q2 etc. format and response in corresponding A1, A2 etc. Students using empathy and high order thinking.
Questions asked in Q1, Q2 etc. format and response in corresponding A1, A2 etc. Students using empathy and high order thinking.

I cannot believe how well this activity went.  The students were relating the material to themselves and questioning the hows and whys that every science teacher dreams of hearing.  Today, we did a follow-up activity using dice and manipulatives that allowed the students to explore the risks of antibiotic treatment and the failure to follow through on completing the prescribed dose.  Throughout the activity, the students made comments about how they had never made the connection between failing to follow through with antibiotic regiments and antibiotic resistance.

I don’t know if the students were making these kinds of connections before and I couldn’t see it.  But I do know that because of this activity, I have a deeper understanding of why my students know about the subject matter, how it has affected them personally, and what interests they would like to explore next.

I hope I’ve convinced you of the good that can be created when using videos in the classroom.  A picture really is worth a thousand words.  Be sure to check out Todaysmeet.com and peruse the possibilities.  (Some of my favorites so far: You can print, embed and save chat room transcripts so that you can review with your students later!)

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