For those of you who are in 1:1 classrooms, you really need to check out Recap. I teach high school students, and my rural Missouri classroom is not 1:1 yet, so I have used it sparingly so far, but I see the power and possibilities it presents. Once I have an established way for students who do not have internet access at home or a smartphone to complete assignments using Recap in my room before or after school, then I’m “going all in.”
The very first time I used Recap in class was an eye-opening experience. I’ve seen videos of elementary and middle school students using it, so I was completely unprepared for the shyness a majority of my sophomores displayed. Yes, in the age of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, I watched my three classrooms of sophomores experience shyness in front of the camera. They don’t mind being silly in front of the camera, constantly, in their daily lives, but ask them to talk about literature and, well, they freeze. Weird.
My first assignment for them was something less demanding than what I plan to use in the future because I wanted students to feel comfortable using the website before I slapped a deeper question on them. My students take notes every time we read in class, and the notes are simple. They write down a question, quote, and then a comment (QQC) on that day’s reading, so my first Recap assignment was for them to share their QQC, and they could read it to the camera right off their notes. They were still nervous, which fascinated me.
See how they avoid looking directly at the camera?
So when you try it for the first time with students, consider going easy on them. It is a standard practice of mine to make the first time with a new technology something students can handle without additional stress. For some students, the idea of trying anything new involving technology is completely out of their comfort zone. I always have a few who grumble “Why can’t we just do a Powerpoint?”
So how do you get started? Well, sign up (you can use your google account) and then create and assign a question or questions to a student, a group of students or the entire class to be answered during or after a lesson. You can decide video length, and the maximum is three minutes, while the minimum length is one minute. There are students who will struggle a bit to talk for one minute, and then you’ll have students who can’t seem to get their point across in under three minutes. So far, I’ve capped my assignments at three minutes, but I tell students that they may stop after one minute if they have fulfilled the assignment question or directions.
Before using it in class, test it on a Chromebook iPad, tablet, or the device you plan to use, making sure that it has a camera, microphone (built-in, doesn’t have to be separate), and make sure that the Recap website isn’t blocked by your school’s filters.
The Recap default title is dated, and then you can type in your question or record yourself asking students what you want them to answer, or instructing them on what you want them to do for their Recap. It easy and doesn’t take much of your time. Another great benefit to using Recap is that students will not need a separate login to use it. They can log in to their email if they have a Google account, and then simply click to Sign in or Up with Google. You can also have them join classes with a Join Pin.
You are likely to have one student in your class that can easily figure out the recording process, but if not, feel free to test it as a student (log in as one) so that you can also guide them. We discovered that students can re-record until satisfied, but once they click out of that, they can’t go back and edit. That’s it! It is really very simple, and once all of you are familiar with it, it becomes a quick way to assess students.
There’s always a few students who aren’t shy, ever.
Each Recap will want you to select a due date. Keep in mind that once the deadline has passed, late students can’t complete that assignment. Since I make all of my students complete all of their work to the best of my ability, I simply create a “copy” of that assignment, and then my late students can still complete it. This also helps if you want to deduct points for the assignment being completed past the deadline. I haven’t done that yet, and I’m not sure I will with this type of assignment, but this does make it possible.
Recap lets you get an overview of how each class is doing as a group or dig into individual responses for formative assessment. You can also share individual responses with other students, parents, and educators, or show a daily review reel in class. My classes begged me not to show their videos to anyone, mainly other classes, so I did promise them I wouldn’t. I did tell them that I would share with a few teachers to show them how great this tool is for reflection and assessment. They finally agreed that they would not be embarrassed if I showed other teachers.
What are you waiting for? Give Recap a try. You’ll learn things about what your students are thinking that may surprise you.