I Love Using a Document Camera in My Science Classroom!
One of the tools that I couldn’t live without is my document camera. I really love how it makes my teaching life so much easier and how it helps make resources and content more available for my students.
I admit that I was a bit slow to jump on the “document camera bandwagon.” When it was first demonstrated to us, it was used to show textbook sections. Since I rarely use a textbook at first I couldn’t really see how it would be useful in my teaching.
When I first started using interactive notebooks I realized that I would need a way to show my pages to students, since I kept a notebook right along with them. So that summer I asked our IT guy for one. I started using it along with our notebooks and from that point on I was hooked! The best part was that I was able to do a lot more with it than I had originally thought.
1. Use the document camera for close reading activities.
I had a lot of students with 504s and IEPs in my classes, especially over the last 10 years. Many of them had pretty poor reading skills.
The document camera was a perfect tool to do close reading activities as a group.
Make sure each student has highlighters. We all used the same colors for our activities. Then I’d place my article under the doc cam and would model the close reading which would usually focus on one or two specific skills.
For example, one day we’d use the blue highlighter to highlight the main ideas in each article. Or we’d preview by looking at the comprehension questions first and then read while highlighting possible answers or evidence.
I loved showing students how to annotate an article to help them understand it. Thinking out loud while showing it under the doc cam was a great way to help students start practicing this skill.
2. Use the document camera for notes and drawings.
Sometimes I found that certain types of content lent itself better to being shown under the document camera than as a Powerpoint … anything where there drawings and/or labeling.
My kids tended to be more engaged when I used the document camera to “give notes.” I would write the information on the notesheets under the doc cam while discussing the information and they would copy it into their own notesheets.
Drawings were fun with the doc cam! Everyone had colored pencils and highlighters at their tables so it was easy to say, “ok everyone, grab red, blue and black colored pencils. We’re gonna draw a glucose molecule.” Drawing cells, labeling organelles, cell membranes … all of these were fun and much easier using the document camera.
3. Make videos with the document camera!
This is something that not a lot of people realize you can do. It’s easy to make videos with your document camera, as long as yours has that capability. I think most of the newer ones do.
There were multiple ways I used my own videos in my classroom. One of the best things I did was to start making lab introduction videos. These were invaluable to both me and my students. If someone was absent, it was so much easier to have them watch the intro video than to find time after school to explain to them what they’d missed. They could watch it on their own and come in knowing what to do.
Here’s a lab video that I made for our “Letter e” microscope lab. I did the wet mount demo right under the document camera and then went through what they’d need to know and do. Very effective!
I also made videos when I knew I’d be having a sub. Here in NY we have lab classes that are separate from our daily classes. The labs meet every other day. So if I had to be out there were 2 lab classes that had to be covered, and I hated to leave “busy work.”
Making videos to explain class and lab was immeasurably helpful on those days. The kids had no excuse to not know what to do!
4. Use the document camera to review.
Document cameras are a great review tool! I love to use it to go over homework, practice problems, Constructed Response Questions, CERs, etc. Being able to “show” my thinking, to point out things on diagrams, and to write answers together makes it so much easier to keep everyone engaged. I feel very strongly that it helps a great deal with understanding.
5. Let students show their work.
Whenever we did group work or POGILs, I would have the students come up to the document camera and show their work.
They knew ahead of time that they would all be responsible for this, so I never had a problem getting kids to come up. A lot of them actually like doing it!
This also works very well for jigsaw-type activities where groups of students are each responsible for a specific part of the whole activity. Having the groups show their work under the doc cam holds each group accountable and makes it easier for them to share with other groups.
6. Use the document camera to show randomness in your actions.
In my last post I talked about some cool ways to use index cards in the classroom. I firmly believe that showing transparency in this way goes a long way toward establishing rapport with students and a sense of fairness in your classroom.
Unfortunately, some students don’t have a lot of reasons to trust adults, so even a little thing like this can help.