VOC Step 3: Students planning

You decide what type of project you want to do from the three suggestions below. You will also need to decide what video technique you want to use (see the vidumath technical guide) for more information):

Introduction: Should you aim at a discovery task, such as finding numbers in the neighbourhood, you will not have to plan for long. You have to go on an expedition. Only in this case, creating a storyboard can be skipped and the project continues with step 4.

Problem solving: If you want to solve a mathematical problem, perhaps one from the suggestions in vidumath example maths problems, you first create a storyboard that helps to solve the problem and to visualise the solution in the video.

Consolidation: If you intend to visualise a mathematical concept, idea or procedure, you need to collect ideas and very quickly start working on your storyboard.

In a student project

The group discussion between the students is the key part of the project. This is when most of the mathematics learning occurs. The storyboard plays an important role in this process. It provides a powerful and new way to foster mathematical thought. If you observe during the process that the students have made a mistake or are on a wrong track, first give them some moments to find it themselves. Sometimes a little hint is enough. Mistakes are an important part of the learning process.

Mistakes are opportunities for learning, as students examine the mistakes and correct them. But they are more than that. Recent neurological research found that when you make a mistake your brain is activated two times: The first time is an increased electrical activity when your brain senses a conflict between a correct response and a mistake. This brain activity occurs even if you don’t know that your response was wrong. The second activity happens when you notice that you made a mistake and think about it.

In order to enable students to contribute ideas without the fear of being wrong, it is important that you create a mistake-friendly environment. That means that you value mistakes, value all of the students’ thinking and help them to appreciate that mistakes improve their brains. However, in order to prevent later frustration during filming and reflection, students should discover mistakes while planning the video, not later. Therefore the teachers’ evaluation of the storyboard is crucial. No group should receive permission to start filming before a teacher has approved the storyboard! You have to ensure that the solutions and concepts are mathematically correct and complete, and the plans are not too ambitious. To judge how ambitious the plans are can be difficult as the students are usually more familiar with video work than adults.

The last part of this step is the practical preparations for filming. A steady camera is often the hardest part, were teachers in the piloting have had to help physically. If camera tripods are not available, you may have to suggest building a platform to hold the camera steady in the same position. In previous piloting, students have used large open books or piles of books, chairs, and tables. Sticky tape can help as well. A steady camera is particular important if you want to film a stop-motion video.

The children have to set up a film set and prepare props. The set can be as simple as a coloured piece of paper acting as a backdrop. Sometimes, students want to build an elaborate set. You will need to provide limited oversight to ensure that their creative ideas can be completed and built within the time limitations.

One-shot videos often show how students manipulate objects to solve the mathematical problem or visualise the mathematical concept. If privacy is an issue, you have to ensure that the set is arranged in a way that the video will not show children’s faces. The students have to find solutions for lighting and framing, too. Too little light is sometimes a problem. Trial and error is the best way to arrive at a good result.

Next Step 4: Students filming