What observations have you made about your students' engagement with the websites and impact on their learning to teach?
My students were both interested and frustrated with the video viewing exercise. At the end of the three weeks of viewing, I did a mid semester evaluation which included comments regarding the videos. They were guardedly enthusiastic. They said they enjoyed looking at the sites and that they learned a lot from looking at other people�€™s classrooms. They found looking at the sites in class in groups frustrating because it was so difficult to hear what was being said when everyone else was also listening. A third criticism they had was that they found it repetitive to look at the sites again after they had viewed them at home.
In observing them working, some groups discussed what they had individually found in doing the homework before coming to class. They referred to the notes they had made and, if necessary, looked at the video again together. That was the process I had envisioned. Other groups used the time to look at the videos again, and experienced the frustrations mentioned in the evaluations.
Using these videos as a pedagogical tool has technological glitches that I am gradually overcoming as I use them. Next year, I'll have earphone outlets that will allow them to listen to the same video together while watching on one computer screen without interfering with one another's experience.
I was struck with how the videos did, in fact, help my students get better at being astute observers, at how having that visual text to compare to descriptive written text was an excellent way for them to think about how teaching practices get enacted in different settings. Many of the text materials I use (such as Routman and Calkins for example) come with dvds of examples of practice. They are useful for modeling practice. These QUEST videos of actual classroom practice with all the messiness that entails allowed my students to make sense of the practices they were learning about in a setting that was real, more real than the packaged dvds.