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Ready! Camera! Action!
by Stephanie Blackburn

Stephanie Blackburn is working toward National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist.

October 13, 2003

"Mrs. Blackburn, are we really on camera?" a student yelled from across the room.

That morning I had described to my students the process I was going through. I explained that I was trying to improve my teaching and that part of the process required that I videotape the class. They asked questions, most importantly, "What do we have to do?" I stressed the importance of doing nothing differently. I tried to drive home the idea that they should ignore the camera and continue working normally. We brainstormed and role-played how they should act when the camera was trained on their group.

Later that day, the librarian came and set up the camera in the back of the room. As I transitioned from group to group, my students whispered and pointed at the camera. One student asked if it was on. I ignored them and continued working.

At one point I looked up. A student was in front of the camera pretending to kiss it, and yelling into it "Look at me! I'm famous." I quietly made my way to the back of the room, but the student stopped when he saw me. Unfortunately, the camera had run out of tape. I'd have liked to show him how inappropriate his actions were. I realized then the effect having a camera in the room on a regular basis would have on the students. This week's to-do list:

  • Practice more videotaping.
  • Buy longer tapes -- or more tapes.
  • Show students the tapes.
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Meet Stephanie Blackburn

Stephanie Blackburn, one of Education World's 2002-2003 teacher diarists, received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Rhode Island in May 1994. For the first two years of her teaching career, Stephanie worked as an enrichment specialist in the talent development program for the Westerly, Rhode Island, school district. For the past seven years, she has taught fourth grade at Bradford Elementary School in Westerly. Stephanie was awarded a 2002 National Educator Award by the Milken Family Foundation, in a program that provides recognizes elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and other education professionals who are furthering excellence in education.

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