Recording Yourself Teaching in the Classroom in Three Steps
Step One: Obtain camera and record your lesson
Basic Equipment Required:
1. Video recording device. You can use your own/borrowed SmartPhone or you can purchase a low-cost video recording camera. The College of Education offers a small selection of cameras available for loan for up to 72-hours at a time (first-come-first-served).
Whichever device you choose, make sure you have adequate storage space available to record your lessons. Estimate that you will need 2GB per 30 minutes of recording (if you record at the lowest quality recording). Many phones and recording devices accept a mini or microSD card that can expand the available storage. Low-cost cards are available through Amazon.com, Best Buy, or other popular retailers.
Notes about borrowing equipment from the College: We do not have enough cameras for each student to individually check out. We ask that you coordinate with a partner or others at your placement site to checkout the camcorder so it can be used by multiple student teachers. One representative should then complete the Request to Borrow Video Recording Equipment. Depending on which equipment you obtain, you may be asked to provide batteries (AA or AAA) and/or a storage card (e.g. microSD card) or USB flash drive. You must remove and store all video recordings you make before returning the camcorder. If you need assistance with saving/storing your recordings, please ask an assistant in the Education Computer Center (310 Ritter Hall) before you return your equipment. Any videos left on the camera will be wiped/deleted and cannot be recovered. The person checking it out is responsible for its return.
2. Tripod and adapters, if needed. You'll need to setup your camera in your classroom so that you have good lighting, sound, and your best available view of the classroom. This may require that you prop the camera on a student desk or shelf (table-top tripod) or somewhere near the front of the classroom (full-size tripod). Be sure to consider limitations such as access to power or safety (keep aisles/walkways clear). iPhones and tablets may require special adapters to connect to a standard tripod.
3. Extension cables and/or extra batteries. Most standard handheld cameras will record for 30-40 minutes on a full charge. Some require a continual power supply to record longer than 5-10 minute videos. Be sure to test your camera BEFORE you bring it to the classroom so you know what you'll need to bring to ensure the best-possible recording experience.
4. Optional Accessories. Depending on your room configuration, you may benefit from some additional accessories like a Bluetooth microphone or a wide-angle lens. Be sure the accessories you choose are compatible with your device.
Recording Your Lesson
Setup and Camera Placement. Think about where you and your students will be during the activities to be captured on the videotape. If some students have not submitted the permission or release forms, arrange to have those students out of camera range. Will different activities require students to regroup and move around the classroom? How will the use of instructional materials be recorded? What will the camera need to capture? If applicable, when should the camera operator zoom in or rotate the camera to a new position?
Camera Operator (bring a buddy). If possible, we recommend you consider partnering with another student teacher and acting as each others' camera operator. This will allow you focus on your teaching while your partner focuses on framing you in the best light and including your students (as appropriate and with permission!). If you need a camera operator, look to people who already have approval to be in classrooms, e.g., your cooperating teacher, university supervisor, designated student helpers, or fellow student teachers
Plan Your Lesson and Recording. Meet with the camera operator to plan the taping prior to videotaping your lesson, and plan to use a tripod for all or part of the shoot. Share your lesson plan and discuss your plans to capture the teaching and learning. Even if you want the camera operator to move around to capture group or pair work, only a tripod will avoid shaking images. For safety reasons, tape extension cords to the floor with duct tape.
Practice the videotaping process. This will provide a chance to test the equipment and give your students an opportunity to grow accustomed to the camera. This will also help you catch possible snags, such as a camera flash “whiting-out” images you have on a screen.
Adjust, if necessary, for the light source each time a recording is made. Newer cameras may have a switch for recording in incandescent, florescent, or daylight or may be completely automatic. Do not place the camera facing the window or other bright sources of light.
Check the sound. If you are having trouble hearing yourself and/or the students, try placing the camera closer to the action OR use an external microphone plugged into the camera. Confirm that this turns the internal microphone off. If the camera operator wears headphones plugged into the camera, the sound quality can be monitored during taping. If possible, turn off audible heating or air-conditioning fans; if not possible, locate and point the camera away from them.
Recommended Videos: Using Video to Improve Practice from the Teaching Channel
Video #1: Video 101 - a basic intro to recording yourself teaching with helpful tips on where to place the camera, dealing with sound and lighting issues, and how to manage cuts and fades.
Video #2: Do It Yourself! - One teacher's example of how she records her teaching and uses her recordings to improve her practice.
Note: content adapted from "CSUN PACT videotaping guide" from the California State University Northridge (10 March 2015)