Guest post: Imagine going through school with a remote control. Rewind the teacher when we felt confused and needed a concept explained again. Fast-forward the lesson when we had already grasped a skill and were growing bored waiting for our classmates. Or even pause the classroom when we, for social or emotional reasons, simply needed a moment to collect our thoughts and regain focus.
How different might our school experience have been if we would have had the opportunity to personalize the pace of our learning? Maybe we really could have mastered material. Maybe we would be more resilient in the face of new challenges. Maybe we would look at ourselves and our abilities with greater confidence.
This sounds like a fantasy. But it’s possible! As teachers ourselves, our team at the Modern Classrooms Project has figured out a way to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of all students.
Classrooms based in self-paced and mastery-based learning may sound idealistic, but instructional videos teachers created through Screencast-O-Matic can be the first step in building these student-centered learning environments.
Through teacher-created screencast videos, students can access instruction that is appropriately challenging for them and learn at their own pace, and teachers can provide one-on-one support and guidance along the way. There’s no longer pressure to push all students to a new lesson each day and teachers can assess students on true understanding or mastery of a given concept over completion.
Self-Pacing in a Modern Classroom
Every educator can speak to the deeply flawed premise under which most classrooms operate: Every student learns at exactly the same pace as their classmates.
We see the results of this falsehood when students become disengaged because they are bored, grow frustrated because they don’t understand, or even drop out because they’ve lost hope. But there’s a better way! By directing students to short, personalized instructional videos made with Screencast-O-Matic, we can start to build self-paced classrooms that give learners the time and flexibility they need.
Modern Classroom teachers no longer have to teach everyone the same lesson every day! Instead they spend class time directly supporting students with their own specific needs. Teachers closely monitor student progress and maintain progress trackers indicating where each student is in the unit of study. Through categorizing tasks within a unit as “must do”, “should do”, and “aspire to do”, teachers provide true differentiation: each student is engaging with meaningful material each day, regardless of learning level. Research affirms the benefits of self-paced learning environments, and our teachers throughout the country can speak to the differences they see in their students’ growth.
When you step into a Modern Classroom, you might see some students watching an instructional video and taking notes, some students working together or with their teacher on practice assignments, and some students completing mastery checks. Our teachers use these small assessments to evaluate whether a student has mastered the material of a particular lesson. Revision and reflection are celebrated practices in a Modern Classroom. Students only progress to the next lesson when they have demonstrated they are ready. This research-based tenet of our instructional model ensures that students are truly learning materials, rather than simply being passed on to a new lesson each day.
When we hold our students to mastery, we not only help students make authentic academic growth, we help them develop confidence and trust in themselves. Our students indicate that they can teach themselves new skills and concepts. They also say they are more comfortable with technology and wish more classes were taught in this blended, self-paced, mastery-based framework.
Transform Your Classes With Instructional Videos
If you are interested in learning how screencast instructional videos can help transform your classroom, join the 20,000+ teachers who have enrolled in our free Modern Classrooms Essentials course. Visit learn.modernclassrooms.org to start innovating for your students.
This is part 2 of a three-part blog series by the Modern Classrooms Projects. Check out the first blog, ‘How Two Teachers Used Screencasts to Transform Education.’