Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Taking Pictures in the Classroom! pt 1

One of my favorite tools in the classroom is the camera.  Whether it is a document camera, digital camera or camera phone, the ability to capture learning as it happens makes it possible to draw on that experience any number of times afterward.  In AISD, most classrooms have multiple avenues to take advantage of cameras during instruction.

Dude, Where's My Camera? For starters, nearly every classroom has a digital camera since every classroom has a teacher with a laptop. District-issued teacher laptops all have webcams above the monitor. Every campus also has quite a large number of student netbooks that also have webcams installed.

One of my favorite classroom instruments is the normal digital camera. I'm a fan of the Canon Elph Powershots because of the connecting to almost any computer without adding drivers and because of the high quality still and video shots you can get for not too much money.  Many teachers in AISD have access to a Canon digital camera, but forget that it also takes video!

While we are covering small and relatively inexpensive devices, there has been a growth in the desire for smart-devices in the classroom. More classrooms have camera-enabled iPod Touches, iPads, and a few Android tablets as well.

Don't forget the other camera in almost every room, the cell phone camera! It's easy to whip that out and take a quick photo or video of an instructional sample that you wish to share. More schools across the country are starting to relax the 'no cell phone' rules for students (a , b). Instead of banning them because they could be misused, they are putting them into instructional practice and modeling appropriate phone behavior for students.  Students are using phones to complete quick online quizzes, post questions to the class website, perform quick internet research, or even share photographed examples of the curricular concept that day.

The use of document cameras in the classroom is finally starting to mature from the 'digital overhead' use to being a live demonstration and media capture tool. Almost two-thirds of classrooms in all of our schools have doc cams already attached to a projector.  Many other schools have realized the instructional use and purchased more with their own budgets. The Lumens D265C has been the district standard since the creation of the Innovation Stations, but just about every document camera on the market now provides you with the ability to capture still or video images.

What is your favorite classroom camera resource?
The next post in this series will look at software that can be used to get photos from camera to computer.
Photo credit:  http://www.dvguru.com/media/2005/12/Cell_Phone_Camera.jpg

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