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Lessons Learned
by Stephanie Blackburn

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

December 1, 2003

Disaster! Pure disaster! I actually thought my first videotaping experience (of a lesson that would show me integrating math and science) would go smoothly. I had grand illusions that I would be able to work intelligently with two groups, while the other students productively finished their experiment. Wrong! For some reason, the entire class forgot how to perform a science experiment. Even though I had just gone over the directions, no one followed them. One group hadn't completed even the procedural part of the experiment after 45 minutes; they were still setting up. Another group never collected the data they needed, and the girl who didn't collect the sample was bossing everyone else. It was unbelievable!

Finally, I turned off the camera, stopped the experiments, and pulled everyone to the back of the room to watch, on a 3" by 3" screen, the disaster that had just unfolded in front of my eyes. I asked my students to raise their hands when they saw someone following the directions I had given. Needless to say, no one raised a hand. The class just sat there looking distraught. I felt bad for a minute; then we discussed what had happened. As I watched the tape myself, I discovered I probably wouldn't have been able to use it even if my students had performed perfectly; the sound was terrible too.

Lessons learned: Don't expect to tape just onceTry to have another adult in the classroomTry to have someone physically do the videotaping to be sure you catch the sound (or to make sure a mike actually is hooked up).

Tomorrow, we'll try again.

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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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