Student Created Videos to Communicate Thinking

Watch Shelton Class Video

On February 28, 2014, my students were asked via a Tweet from #scio14, the Science Online Together Conference, to share their voice to conference attendees and the world through a Twitter hashtag about the importance of using media in the classroom for learning.  This blog entry contains some of their tweets communicating their reflections.  The whole storify can be found at and an blog entry about how student use Twitter to learn, network, collaborate and share can be found here.

A2 we use video to share and contribute ideas to other students to help them understand concepts that we have learned in class!

Classroom Connections

This year, my students and I partnered to develop ways to leverage technology to communicate our thinking and extend the classroom learning “beyond the four walls”.  Our journey has enabled us to connect with other students and scientists from around the world and learn with them.  My professional journey (on Twitter) to learn more about utilizing technology in the classroom has resulted in a partnership with Dr. Alan Marnett, the founder and CEO of BenchFly. Together, we have joined forces to develop a framework of critical thinking and communication for students (and others) to use with video.

At BenchFly, we consider ourselves very fortunate to have met Mrs. Shelton—a teacher with a seemingly endless supply of energy and passion for advancing student education. Having spent nearly 15 years in the lab as a research scientist, I saw firsthand how technology could revolutionize the professional laboratory environment. But the way I look at it, being a “scientist” is not defined by working in a particular lab or earning a specific degree. It’s a frame of mind. It’s how you think. Scientists ask questions, make observations, gather data, and make conclusions. By that definition, who *isn’t* a scientist? So the technology that’s positively impacting today’s researchers should be just as effective at training our younger generation of scientists as well.

We live in an incredible era where students have access to more information in the palm of their hands than our grandparents could have gathered in an entire lifetime. So it seems we’ve solved the “information access” problem. Now on to the harder one: thinking. Thinking, and effective communication of the ideas, are skills that can be taught, developed, and perfected. When Mrs. Shelton and I embarked on this curriculum development journey, we didn’t know where it would lead. I could not be more proud of Mrs. Shelton and her students, who bravely embarked on this journey with us to create the ART of Video.

A2 Using video in the classroom has gave us a new way of teaching people and showing our thinking.

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Thinking Products

For students to leave us college, career, and life ready, classrooms need to shift from teachers filling students with facts for “student learning” to students reasoning and explaining how and why phenomena occur- “student thinking”.  Technology is a powerful tool to access, refine, and extend learning through student created “Thinking Products”.  Thinking products are defined as communications of students“meaning making” from class experiences. Communication is through the vehicles of writing, speaking, and media including video. Thinking products are the glue that binds together all of the essential elements of the current education landscape: Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and 21st Century Skills in the ISTE Standards.  Through the use of thinking products, students become independent learners, critical and creative thinkers, and communicators who are prepared for success in life and career. Students, over multiple years of school, deepen understanding of content by analyzing, interpreting, evaluating, synthesizing–thinking and communicating  relationships and connections between multiple experiences. Learning becomes more meaningful to the student because he/she embeds it into their schema since the integration of evidence from class experiences and information accessed through text and digital sources is controlled by the student. The communication of the thinking is facilitated by the teacher through the framework, use of questioning, and feedback resulting in a cohesive package (through multiple communication modes) that intertwines knowledge and the practices of the discipline.   Video thinking products are engaging experiences for students that result in both in-depth understanding of content and the deep thinking necessary for students to be critical consumers of science.

Student Example of Video Thinking Product

The universality of thinking products in my classroom has a foundation in constructing a claim and supporting that claim with multiple pieces of evidence. In the old model, my students were asked to communicate knowledge about separate class experiences through writing, quizzes and summative assessments.  In the new model, students communicate thinking after “meaning making” around multiple class experiences. This thinking requires students to make connections across different areas of a discipline and across other disciplines as well, resulting in an in-depth understanding of content while practicing critical thinking skills.  The multiple vehicles of Thinking Products: Video, Speaking,Writing, and Social Media enable students to prepare for effective communication and sharing of ideas in a 21st Century World.

Claim Evidence Coaching Rubric

A2- Using videos to show a concept makes it much more easier to learn something instead of just book learning .

11:12 AM – 28 Feb 2014

Impact of Video in the Classroom

In our classroom, the goal is to “act and think like a scientist.” We communicate our scientific reasoning with Thinking Products. Students can choose between the multiple vehicles to communicate thinking, so the learning becomes personalized to the students needs and interests; I can meet them where they are on the thinking scaffold since all products have a common foundation.  Throughout the semester, the Shelton Class will be sharing our story of using video in the classroom to access, refine, extend and communicate learning and thinking through this blog, Twitter @tdishelton and @BCHSstory, as well as on the web at  We will be posting our scaffold of skills and activities for students to build proficiency in thinking and the ART of video as well as sharing student products and the student story.

A2 I have used video in the class to create investigations and help explain my thinking.

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The ART of Video

Even though I was convinced of the power of video to not only enhance the “meaning making” experience, but also provide an effective and essential communication vehicle in our global society, I am aware of the anxieties felt by many students around video participation.  Together, the students, Dr. Marnett (BenchFly) and I have developed a scaffold for communication through video.  The ART (Audience, Role, Technique) of video as well as lesson plan samples will follow in separate entries for this blog.  In addition, I will post ideas that the students have found effective in creating a class culture to support video in the classroom.

If we’re going to teach students to act and think like scientists, we should lead by example. So like any good experiment, the ART of Video will be a work in progress. With the help of teachers, students, and scientists, we will continue to generate hypotheses, gather data, and make conclusions in order to improve the curriculum and better serve the next generation of scientists.             –Alan Marnett

We would love to hear your feedback about how you are using video in your classroom so we can continue learning in our classroom while learning, reflecting and sharing with our PLN through technology.

Tricia and Alan