Friday, January 04, 2008

Document Cameras: Pre-Teaching and Student Sharing

One of the things that is helpful to have if you plan to use GPS, Palms, student response systems or other handheld technologies is a document camera. Document cameras are hooked up to a either a projector or a television and can be used to show the entire class all types of objects--any of the items I mentioned above as well as student work, artifacts, or science experiments.

Pre-Teaching: One example includes using the document camera to pre-teach GPS skills prior to taking kids out into the field. Students are able to follow along visually and try the GPS units as opposed to only having oral instructions in the field.

Sharing Student Work: My friends, in the South Lane School District in Cottage Grove, Oregon use document cameras extensively in math instruction. In this case, while students are working on open ended problems, the teacher is moving about the room observing the students' strategies for solving the problem and is thinking about the level of sophistication of the various solutions. When students have completed the problems, the teacher asks several students to present their work using the document camera. Student work is sequenced from the most basic, trial and error approaches to the algorithmic approaches resulting in student generated formulas.

Other Benefits: The great thing about the document camera that I am currently using (AVerVision300AF) is that it takes pictures which can be accessed from the camera in another class or the next day (up to 80 pictures can be taken which can later be transferred to a computer if desired). This is a great way of comparing and contrasting solutions.

Technical Notes: If you choose to connect this to a television, be sure to use the S-Video cable or the picture will be grainy.

Alternatives: Finally, if you don't have the funds to buy a document camera, you can project your 2- and 3-dimensional objects by putting an old video camera on a tripod, tilting it to point down, and connecting it to the television. Make sure to connect the AC power or it may go to sleep at a crucial moment.

Feedback: If you have a document camera you love, let me know the model, price, and what you love about it.

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