Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lights, Camera...Flip-O-Rama!

If I had to choose my all-time favorite teaching technology, it would be the AVerVision document camera that I used daily.   It was school property, so I'm sure that it will be replaced once the insurance dust settles.  Let me put it this way for my mathlete friends: 

Making my life easier + enriching instruction for my students = True Love

In order to operate this tool successfully, you will need some type of projection device and screen.   You will need all of the right cables.   And, if you're like me, you will need someone who's smarter and more patient than you are about disconnecting and reconnecting that dusty tangle of cords behind your teacher computer and figuring out where the new cords go.

What does a document camera do?  

The basic document camera can reproduce and image in real time.   When connected to a presenter, the image can be projected onto a screen, or a white board.  

For example, if I open a book under the camera, the image on the screen will show my hands opening the book as it happens.  

If I am modeling a writing exercise with paper and pencil, students can see my hand move across the notebook as words appear.  

Say six of your classes like to play the Jumble, and you only have one copy of the newspaper, project the Jumble onto a white board.   Allow students to use dry erase markers to solve the puzzle as a class.  

If you don't want to spend your time, money and energy making transparencies, simply place what would have been your master under the document camera.   Voila!   Instant transparency.

Play Boggle as a class for fun.  

Additionally, you may project whatever is on the attached computer's monitor.  

Say you want to show your class that great YouTube video, Julian Smith's "I'm Reading a Book."   You can do that easily!    

Do your students ever have to practice timed readings?   You can show them a free online stopwatch while they work, so they can record their own time. (

Project art and photographs for visual writing prompts.

Perhaps you already have a DVD/ VCR combo attached to your presenter.   The document camera can also be set up without having to plug/unplug any of the devices to use them.   You switch back and forth with the touch of a button.

Please note:

When you are using this technology, close out anything personal on your computer, especially e-mail.   Sometimes if a child bumps the cart and jiggles the connection, or if you start it up thinking that it is on the camera setting, but it's really on the computer setting...   Well, you get my drift.  

Also, if you are doing a read-aloud from a children's book with shiny pages, there will be glare.   It's perfect for reading Captain Underpants because the camera will also magnify the comics.   There's nothing cooler than seeing Dav Pilkey's Flip-O-Rama on the big screen.   Tra La Laaaaa!  

If you write reminders on the top of your hand because you tend to lose/launder any reminder notes you scrawl, and you firmly believe that if something separates your hand from the rest of your body, you probably won't get around to that list anytime soon-- you are one of my kind, and those reminders will also be magnified for all to see.

And, yes, if left unattended, children will put their faces under the camera so you can see up their noses.   But..I didn't need to tell you that.

There are fancier versions than the one I had, and like all technology, the prices change as models age.   You may find out that your school already has one just waiting for someone brave to use it.

Here's a link to the company's website, so you can see the cameras for yourself:

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