Tuesday, 31 January 2012

the classroom as film set: encouraging student self-reflection

Filming students roleplaying restaurant scenes tonight demonstrated to me forcefully the power of the medium in getting students to give self-feedback and reflect on their own performance.

Students had named their own restaurant, designed menus, come up with dialogues, and then went on to adlib new restaurant scenes, playing the customers in each other's restaurants.

Once this was finished, we sat down to watch all the short movies I'd taped on my ordinary little digital camera. The sound could have done with some improving; unfortunately there was quite a lot of background noise to contend with. In the future I'll have to stand a lot closer to be sure to pick up the softer spoken students.

But even with the at times difficult to hear soundtrack,  the replaying of the films turned out to be the highlight and the pivotal moment of a fun, dynamic class.

I didn't even have to open my mouth; on watching each skit, students instantly started correcting their own errors, noticing where they could have and perhaps should have spoken more politely, correcting pronunciation and requesting clarifications for where they had doubts.

Interestingly, each student seemed to be critical only of him- or herself; indeed, I would say, seemed to have only eyes and ears for him and her-self; I suppose they have all had ample opportunity to observe their classmates in action, but the opportunity to observe *themselves* is relatively scarce and fascinating, deeply useful, albeit also a little horrifying.

We all enjoyed a very valueable and enthusiastic student-led feedback and error correction session, perhaps one of the best I've ever 'hosted'.

I'm going to have to invest in a better camera!


  1. Hey Lucy!

    Great post--I keep meaning to do this (recording students for self-critiquing), but now you've convinced me (even more) that I should do it!


    1. yes, I should add it helped that the technique was particularly sucessful in this small class in which students have a lot of confidence with each other and no tendency to ridicule each other. In a very large class, with immature or insecure group members, I might be more careful about screening before the whole group.

    2. Good point; I'll have to take that into consideration.