Starbucks Ain't Got Nothing On An EdCafe
We have all had that moment. Class discussion is moving along and a student says something that immediately causes the rest of the class to break off into a bunch of side conversations. You don't want to interrupt the energy, but you need to quiet everyone down and bring them back "on topic." But why are you deciding what the focus of the discussion should be? If the students clearly want to move in different directions, why can't we let them. Enter the EdCafe!
Edcafes (an idea started by Katrina Kennett) are a spin on the Edcamp professional development model. The basic idea is the discussion is decided by the students at the beginning of class and then LED by the students in small groups. The students who want to lead a discussion "submit" their topics at the start of class. This might be by writing them on the board, completing a Google Form or on an online poll. The teacher displays the topics and the student leads give a 15-30 second overview of their topic and decided where in the room they want to hold that discussion. The rest of the class breaks off to the areas that most interest them.
Now, this is not mini presentations. The student lead is not the expert, but rather has a series of questions, prepared in advance, to guide the discussion. Other students in the group are responsible for taking notes, tweeting out ideas, and or generally creating material for the rest of the class to review later. Everyone in the group has a job and is actively participating. The students who want to lead have to make sure they are thoroughly prepped for class to lead an effective discussion.
The teacher is now free to observe the various discussions and interject when necessary. Rather than leading the discussion and always having to bring the class back to one topic, the teacher can now have a variety of ideas being discussed simultaneously.
The video below explains the concept more.
Are You The Next YouTube Star?
- Pick your tool. There are lots of apps and programs that you can use to screencast (aka record your screen). Screencastify is a Google Chrome Extension that is super easy to use tool available on any device with Google Chrome (Chromebook, Desktop, laptop). Everything you record is automatically saved in a Google Drive folder for you to use later. Screencast-o-matic is a free-mium site (normally free, but you can pay for extra features) that has more bells and whistles than Extensions. Problem is you are limited in length of your videos so be careful when recording. But my personal favorite is Snagit. Just click your PrintScreen button and you can immediately screenshot or record your screen. It also has basic video editing tools for if (when) you make a mistake. The only limitation is it doesn't work on Chromebooks.
- Pick your content. Start with something easy that you are going to show over and over such as accessing the online textbook. Create a quick 2 minute tutorial showing the students how to find the textbook and login then post it to your Google Classroom. You just saved yourself 10 minutes in class on the first day! Make watching the video and logging in the HW for that night. Finding that a lot of students are struggling on a particular problem? Create a quick video tutorial explaining the problem so you don't have to keep going over the same question.
- This isn't Netflix. Students do not know how to properly watch videos and take notes. They treat them like they will their favorite shows on Netflix--either let them run in the background while they do other things or mindlessly watch them and forget to write anything down. You will need to train them early by showing short videos and discussing with them what they felt was important to remember later.
- Evaluate learning with immediate feedback. Make sure you are only creating videos that connect directly to an assessment (formal or informal). Maybe the Do Now has discussion questions from the video or maybe it is a Google Form or maybe it is a written quiz. Students need to be held accountable for watching so always connect everything back to immediate, meaningful feedback.
- Location. Where are you going to host your videos? Many prefer YouTube because it is open to the world to view your amazing content. Some prefer closed environments such as EdPuzzle. EdPuzzle allows you to embed your quiz questions directly into your videos and it gives the students immediate feedback on their understanding. The analytics they provide will also tell you which students viewed the lesson, how many times it was viewed, and how well the students are doing on the questions.
To be honest, the biggest hurdle in creating your own videos is getting over hearing the sound of your own voice over and over and over again (and being asked by the students if it is weird hearing your own voice). You do not need be tech-savvy to create content--you just have to be willing to try.