My humble experience

I still remember my first lesson introducing ShowMe to my students. I had concerns; would students be able to connect to the website and watch the videos, would they like the videos, would they enjoy working on the subject via their laptops, etc. I was really excited;  this was my first time that I integrated this much of technology in my math lessons. Apart from the interactive whiteboard and the projector, which I displayed students’ progress, I had my Mac and my IPad to prepare not only worksheets, quizzes, etc, but videos! Also, I would not teach the whole time in my lessons anymore. Rather, I would have mini teaching sessions of 10-15 minutes for introduction and/or recalling purposes only, and then walk around students to check their progress and answer their questions; that was my dream.

laptops on, heads down, my students are working on the subject

If dreams match 100% with reality, we would not call them dreams. Generally speaking, what I planned just worked, I should admit. Students visited my website on their Macs, clicked on the links and watched the videos, and after understanding the subject, solved the questions / problems in the videos, and then showed their answers to me, and I marked them after checking. But there were about twenty of them, each calling me to ask a particular question about the subject, or to say that they did not understand the video, or they even could not connect the Internet, or they had no pencil / notebook, etc. Moreover, when I was answering questions or doing a mini teaching session to a student or a group of students, -not all but some- others tend to connect to Facebook or YouTube, or to play games. In the beginning, there was chaos.

Abdulla Mohamed is working hard

Gradually, everything started settling up. Each of us figured out what was going on, and adjusted ourselves to the ‘new order’. My dream almost came true; students were watching the videos, solving the questions and showed me the results, and I marked them. I was wandering around helping the students understand the subject better. And guess what; almost all of them were doing the classwork! They liked the videos such that they all learned the phrase I used at the end of my videos; solve and ShowMe!

There should be something wrong in that. No offence, ShowMe Crew, but my videos can not be that “magical”. And this time, my nightmare came true; the results of the first campus wide quiz were horrible, comparing to the classwork marks. For example, a student of mine, who failed in Term 1, completed about 80% of his classwork (wow!), yet his CWQ mark was 4 out of 20! And I had several more examples like that! About one fourth of my students showed no significant difference after I introduced ShowMe.

I started to observe what they were doing, and found out their strategy. Some of the students pretended to watch the video, until the sharp students show their answers. Then they copied those students’ work and came to me to get their marks.

How could I miss this? Probably because of my optimistic character; I believed they all would like the videos and study more than ever!!  Anyway, I should have planned an assessment system ASAP. After searching for several online quiz maker websites, I decided that I would go with the traditional paper-pencil method, because (a) those websites were lacking mathematical symbols to type, and they tend to support multiple-choice questions, rather than essay types, and (b) there was no exact way to know if a student answered an online quiz on his own. So, I added a 10-minute quiz session at the end of each period and stopped marking their classwork. I write questions for each video -generally 1 question/video- and ask the students to answer questions referring to the video/s they worked on. Then I mark the quizzes ASAP and record the progress in my table. Ones who answered correct can go on with the next videos. Ones who answered wrong work on additional materials; I give them extra worksheets. Then they try to answer a similar question referring to the same video. This is how they earn their marks.

I thought ‘the new order’ would encourage them, but it did not. What happened is, my classwork marks and my quiz results now match!

I have some success stories, though. I have some students who increased their marks significantly. One of them has never been able to get a two-digit mark out of 100 before, but he improved his marks gradually and the recent mark he has got is 90%. He is in top three of the class now. My successful students also increased their marks; because they like to work on the subject on their own, in silence. One of them, really smart but a problem child, is no more a problem to me. He turns on his music after watching the video, and then starts solving the questions.

I believe I made a good start, yet I have issues to solve. Next year, my school will move to a new campus, where teachers are said to have their own rooms. And another rumor is, students -and hopefully, teachers- will be given IPads instead of hard-copy books. I think I will be able to solve most of my issues and find new opportunities to improve what I do with ShowMe. On the other hand, I don’t want to re-discover America; so if you have similar experience or information, please share with me; charb74 (at) gmail (dot) c o m.