The Power of Video – Part 2: Modeling for PD

This week during our Wednesday morning professional development time we were focusing on getting teachers to create differentiated plans to meet the needs of ELL students. Part of this plan involved having teachers working in the PLCs to plan their lesson while focusing on the english proficiency levels of their students and determining what scaffolds to put in place.  We had a nice planning document, both digital and paper copies, to help them plan.  The problem was that we had to explain how to use this tool to plan and we wanted to model what one of these planning sessions would look like.

This is where video came into play.

We got a couple of teachers together to have them work through the planning document with the help of a couple of our instructional coaches.  We were going to record how they were going to determine what scaffolds were needed to best help their particular student while also showing how we were using the form.

We actually used a Swivl (the original one but we have a new one being ordered) and an iPad to record the video so that we could have better audio when the iPad was off in the corner so you could see everyone.  The Swivl has a lot of other uses and we should be getting one for our instructional coaches to use to help record their own modeling sessions and coaching conversations so that we can use those to help others as well as ourselves in a way to improve.  The Swivl acts as a robot cameraman to rotate (swivel) so that the camera on the iPad is focused on the person with the microphone.  The video can be saved to the iPad or uploaded to the Swivl cloud.  I see this as being a very useful tool to make it much easier for our coaches to record these events for later use and this is something I would have loved to use as teacher.


I always brought in my cameras to record stuff for and during class.  I would record experiments so we could watch them later when reviewing or for those students who were gone.  In our engineering class we would record the marble sorters and the rube goldberg devices as well as the bridge bustings in order to better analyze what was going on.  The students could also share those videos with others, parents and friends, so they were sharing what they were doing.  Never remember a student sharing a worksheet unless they were mocking what the worksheet was asking them to do but they shared these videos again and again.

Back to our lesson for the day.  We recorded the conversation and we had to work some things out which caused the video to be around 15m minutes, which is way too long to share with staff.  I pulled the video into iMovie, edited it by cutting out parts we didn’t need and rearranging parts to better model what the teachers would want to do.  I added some pictures and text to better help the teacher understand where the information was to go and how the tool would help them in the planning process.

esl pd

We showed the video to our smaller groups and the teachers were off.  The video was able to show this process that could have been confusing but by using real teachers modeling what they were about to do, the other teachers felt more connected to the process and it was not just something we made up.  This also was a great way for me to model how we could use a tool we all have on our computers, iMovie, to make something more effective and it did not take much time at all.  The raw video would have been nowhere near as effective as this video was.

The reason why I keep pushing video as a tool and why my students enjoyed the videos we were using, is that video is another format in which we can learn.  We can easily record something to be used later, whether that is a lesson, experiment, or conversation.  I am still amazed that more teachers do not record themselves as they teach so they can better understand what is going on.  Teaching is something we should always be working on and by recording ourselves, we will see things more from the viewpoint of a student and that is the main perspective that matters.  As much as many people may feel uncomfortable when recording themselves on video, we can not forget about why we are doing it.  We are doing it either to improve as a teacher, instructional coach, administrator, or to produce something that will be useful in the learning process for our students as well as other teachers.  I hope to share more about how we are using video as we keep growing as I am sure we will have many ways that video can be another tool in our process of improvement and learning.


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