Recording lessons

Recording lessons can be a powerful way to support student learning. However before implementing any new technology, especially those that require student engagement outside the classroom certain questions should be asked:

  • Is there a benefit for my students?
  • Do I want to invest some time in this?
  • Is the technology going to work in my school environment?
    • If not who can help me make it work and will the time it takes be worthwhile in the long term?
  • Is the technology available to my students at home?
    • Is it easy to use and access?
Recording a lesson should be no more complicated than opening 
the software, pressing record, going about your lesson in exactly the same 
manner as any other lesson, press stop recording and then uploading the
video to a place for students to access.

Five reasons to record your lessons:

  1. Absences: Student absences are frustrating. There is nothing worse than teaching a critical lesson, outlining a new topic or explicitly teaching a new concept and one or more students are away. If the lesson has been recorded then the student has the opportunity to catch up on what they have missed without the teacher having to spend time during the next lesson ‘catching the student up’. The link to the video can also be sent to the parent via email or txt message.
  2. Note taking: If students know they can access a video of the lesson at any time they do not need to spend time taking notes during the lesson. Removing the need for note taking allows students to focus on the lesson being presented rather than rushing to keep up with note taking.
  3. Teacher feedback: Recording lessons can pick up the discussions that occur during lessons (a good microphone may need to be purchased). This allows the teacher to hear who is responding and their understanding of concepts. It also provides feedback to the teacher about the lesson – How did it go? What would I change? Was my questioning effective? etc.
  4. Flipped learning: A growing trend in education is flipped learning. This requires the teacher to 1. create a lesson (or part of) outside of normal lesson time or 2. find a video made by someone else and ask students to view the video for homework reducing the time needed in class for explicit teaching of the concept and more time for application and discussion of the concept.
  5. Revision/parent involvement: A series of lessons recorded on a topic provides a resource for students to look back on to revise for an assessment task or test. If parents are made aware of how to access recorded lessons they can support their child at home to access them. This is true for younger students whose parents may wish to sit down and help them strengthen a concept.
You may not be someone who wants to record every lesson (I don't). But you 
may want to record the odd lesson or section of a lesson every now and then.
For example a 15 min explicit teaching lesson in maths or a 10 minute
procedure in science or a 5 minute grammar rule in English.
If it is something you always teach then the video becomes a resource
you can use in the future. Having the skills and tools to do this
is a valuable addition to your teaching strategies.

How can I record lessons?

Screen record on the iPad using a new iOS 11 feature

iOS11 has the ability to screen record your iPhone or iPad which allows teachers to create recorded lessons using these devices. iOS11 saves the video into the Photos app. There were some bugs initially with the audio not working when the video file was uploaded to sites like You Tube or apps like iMovie. This bug has been fixed in iOS11.2.

ShowMe (iPad)

ShowMe developers say: ShowMe allows you to record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online. It’s an amazingly simple app that anyone can use. ShowMe is a very simple and easy way to get into recording lessons. I have used this app previously for this purpose and it is best used with a stylus to write on the iPad screen. Creating a ShowMe account allows you to upload your videos to an online account providing a place for your students to access the completed lessons. You can also access other teacher’s ShowMe lessons in a variety of subject areas. Lessons will also be saved in the app without having to upload to the ShowMe website.


Educreations is another whiteboard app that I have used to record lessons and works in a similar way to ShowMe. It offers more functionality and options but is essentially the same idea. It allows you to record lessons and upload them to the Educreation’s website to be accessed by your students. Educreations also has its own You Tube channel which allows you to access other teacher’s Educreation videos.

As well as creating lessons on the iPad you can also create lessons on your computer once you have logged in with your account. This does require writing with the mouse which I find annoying (easier with a stylus on the iPad or a touchscreen laptop).

To connect your iPad to a your display in the classroom you have a number
of options:
> Use Apple TV's Airplay function (Apple TV - $209 and a tech who can make 
it work at your site)
> iPad HDMI connection. $49 from Apple - Lightening to HDMI.
Click here to view.
> iPad VGA connection. $49 from Apple - Lightening to VGA.
Click here to view.

Quick Time (Mac)

Quicktime is the video playback app available on Mac which has a function allowing screen recording. If you own a Mac then Quicktime comes as part of the operating system and does not need to be downloaded. If you own a Widows PC or laptop you will need to download Quick Time although it is worth noting that Apple have dropped support for Quick Time on Windows past Windows 7. Apple says: QuickTime 7 is for use with Windows Vista or Windows 7. If installed on other versions of Windows, it may not offer full functionality. You can download Quick Time for Windows 7.7.9 here.

Screen Cast-O-Matic

There are many web based screen recorders like Screen Cast-O-Matic. I have used the free version of this (15mins free recording) and it works well. The paid version is also relatively cheap, a one year subscription costs $1.50 per month or a three year subscription costs $1 per month.

Ink2Go (Windows or Mac)

This app costs AU $30.99 (US $19.90 for Windows or Mac). While it is expensive compared to other apps it offers some great functionality for those serious about screen recording lessons. Download Ink2Go here. I have not had the chance to use the app to record a full lesson but have played with it and it seems to do a good job.

Ink2Go website says: Ink2Go is an extremely simple yet powerful screen annotation and recording software. You can easily write on top of any other application that is currently active on the desktop, even on a running video. You can then save your annotations as an image file or even record the whole session as a video for sharing. It is a useful tool for presenters to communicate and share ideas during a live session, for educators to create effective video tutorials.

Byron Bay High School – Flipped Learning

Flipped learning may not be something you want to explore and recording some or all of your lessons does not mean you are ‘Flipping’ your classroom. If you are interested in finding out more about Flipped learning visit the Byron Bay High Math faculty blog which has detailed information about how they have applied the concept of Flipped learning.

AITSL Teacher Standards (Proficient)

By using technology in this way you are addressing the following aspects of the AITSL Teacher Standards:

  • Domain: Professional Knowledge – 2. Know content and how to teach it.
    • 2.6 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Use effective teaching strategies to integrate ICT into learning and teaching programs to make selected content relevant and meaningful.
  • Domain: Professional Practice – 3. Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning.
    • 3.4 Select and use resources, including ICT, to engage students in their learning.



John Hattie – Rebooting the system

John Hattie’s Jack Keating Memorial lecture at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education is worth listening to. John Hattie is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL).

John Hattie’s theme throughout his speech is around ‘rebooting’ the Australian education system. The speech is fifty one minutes long and covers a range of Hattie’s views about how schools and Governments can change in order to improve student performance.

Some of Hattie’s ideas presented in the lecture include the following.

  • To shift the parent and Government focus of debating and pushing ideas that have minimal impact in education to a focus on what does have an impact.
  • To focus on the kids and not appeasing parents.
  • To stop blaming post codes and/or SES ratings for why schools struggle to get students to learn.
  • To focus on expertise and to value expertise.
  • To increase the number of Highly Accomplished and Lead teachers.
  • To have a common understanding of what ‘growth’ in relation to a child’s learning means. What does a years growth look like?
  • To change the narrative from schools believing excellence at the top end is the measure of success to seeing the growth of all students as the measure of a school success.
  • To develop collaboration and open classrooms – including student voice.
  • To focus on getting students into maths and science pathways who thrive on the struggle not just the ‘best’ students.
  • To abolish the exam system.

I think Hattie’s speech challenges us to think about what we do in schools and its impact on students. If you have an opinion about Hattie’s lecture I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Do we make smaller class sizes work for us?

Smaller class sizes can improve the opportunity for learning to occur but without teacher awareness, knowledge and strategies it will not.

At Port Broughton Area School we have a small R-12 cohort. In some subjects and at some year levels this translates to smaller class sizes. While many of our primary and middle school classes are vertically grouped and therefore not considered to be small other classes are. Some curriculum areas through middle school have single year levels and therefore small cohorts of students while our Year 11 and 12 class sizes are always small in number. So does this translate into better outcomes for student learning?

John Hattie’s research suggests as a whole that smaller class sizes have a relatively small impact on student achievement particularly considering the significant financial cost that is required to implement this strategy. Hattie’s argument is not that smaller class sizes aren’t effective. It is that the research suggests teachers do not change their pedagogy to suit smaller class sizes and therefore do not reap the potential learning outcomes that a small class may provide.

“Hattie contends that some of the most powerful in-class learning comes from teacher-to-student dialogue and more especially from student-to-student dialogue. We might like to imagine that smaller classes facilitate increased student-to-student dialogue and learning and greater one-to-one feedback between teacher and student, but the evidence gathered by Hattie suggests that teachers can actually lecture to smaller classes more than they do with larger classes.” Margery Evans, 2015

The above paragraph is from Margery Evan’s CEO blog on the AITSL website and prompts the following thought:

When we have the opportunity to teach a small class, be it for a term, semester or the year do we ensure teaching strategies that take advantage of having less students? Do we engage students with more teacher feedback and provide opportunities for more student to student conversations? Or as Margery Evan’s points out do we manage small groups of individuals in more-or-less the same way that we manage large groups, therefore not realising any of the advantages that may be possible in having small groups?

To read AITSL CEO Margery Evan’s full post about class size click here.

Peer observation @ PBAS

At Port Broughton we have introduced classroom observations as a part of our professional development. Over the past two years we have had some teachers participate in this process.

The process enables teachers to:

  1. Teachers can have a peer provide feedback focusing on a particular area.
  2. Teachers can ask to come in and observe how a teacher delivers a lesson i.e. use of IT, explaining a lesson goal, providing feedback, catering for a variety of students, behaviour management or running a specific program.

While some teachers have taken up this process some have not and it is my aim to continue to develop this process until we have all teachers engaging in the process.

To encourage teachers to engage in the process I have developed some observation proformas which focus on specific attributes of a lesson. The following documents are produced using resources from the AITSL online course Supervising pre-service teachers which Tanya and I are working through.

The proformas cover the following:

  1. Assessment (3 questions)
  2. Being strategic (12 focus questions)
  3. Classroom management (5 focus questions)
  4. Communication and engagement (5 focus questions)

The benefits of using these proformas:

  1. These four proformas focus on important aspects of teaching and learning and are not specific to year levels or curriculum areas.
  2. They narrow the focus of the observation making it easier for teacher and observer to complete the process and receive targeted feedback that will be useful.

Over the next few weeks leadership have made a commitment to approach teachers to seek a focus (i.e. one of the four areas mentioned above) and time for an observation to be undertaken.

Follow Up: Week 1 Term 4 Classroom Observations & Student Feedback Reflection

I hope that teachers found last weeks staff meeting time useful to reflect on their practice around classroom observations and student feedback. Thank you to teaching staff who emailed their reflections and goal for term 4 back to their line managers. Line managers will email a response back offering suggestions and support to help you to achieve your term 4 goal. Some teachers also took the time to comment on the post Got feedback Used Feedback which helped initiate the reflection that we did. At the time of writing there were 10 comments linked to this post from 5 staff sharing their thoughts and actions in the area of classroom observations and student feedback. If you would like to read or join that conversation click here.

The purpose of this post is to reinforce the importance of this area of our professional development by sharing a video put out by AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership).

The video is an interview between former AITSL Chair Tony Mackay and Ben Jensen (Program Director, School of Education, Gratton Institute) discussing teacher appraisal and sources of feedback that can inform teacher development. I think this helps to reinforce the path we are on in relation to classroom observations and student feedback.

What is AITSL?

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) provides national leadership for the Australian, State and Territory Governments in promoting excellence in the profession of teaching and school leadership.