Do You Document?

By: Amelia Dotson, Stephanie Huff, Catherine Thoerig, Sarah Smith, Beth Brathwaite
Frostburg State University, 2009.

Many schools are beginning to use modern technology in both the classroom and the computer labs. So it seems, every year there is a better and more exciting piece of technology that makes teaching a lot more simple. New pieces of technology include using fitness video games in gym classes, having students become more engaged in the learning process by using clickers to document their answers, as well as the document camera. The document camera is a piece of technology that has overtaken the old clunky over-head projector and makes teaching workbook pages, math problems, and reading assignments easier due to their simplicity of not having to copy over head sheets for example. Many schools today have begun using the document camera in their classroom to make teaching less stressful as well as learning more interesting due to the many purposes the document camera can fulfill.
The document camera can be used to display a workbook page the students are working on as a direct replica of the workbook page in student’s books without wasting ink and using more paper or plastic than necessary. The document camera can also be used as a video projector and if students are doing a skit for example with one of the books they are reading in class their lesson will be more fun because the group is projected onto a screen in the front of the classroom where they will be able to see themselves as well as have other students see easier. The document camera is not used in just one academic subject. All academic subjects, math, reading/writing, science, and social studies can all incorporate the use of the document in their classroom.

Teachers use the document camera to project all kinds of things on the wall for students to see. The teachers are able to project not only documents on the wall but artifacts they may have of different Native American tribes or pictures of famous buildings. The important part is those maps that the teachers have to show to the children. Instead of carrying around large maps the teacher can carry maps the size of printer paper and make them just as big as the classroom map. The teacher is also able to zoom in on a certain part of the map so the students can see the specific place the teacher is talking about.

According to the DIB Australia list of uses for the document camera, the camera can help students to improve their own reading and writing skills. When using the camera in a language arts class, students can see words in a text that they are having trouble understanding, they can correct the mistakes in their own paragraphs and papers, they can identify basic parts of a book and story at the elementary level, and can help each other to identify the necessary context clues to understand the vocabulary and plot of a story. A January 2007 Seattle Times article noted Madison Middle School teacher Kati

Sanderson saying that her students are more engaged with the use of the camera, adding that she has kids “put their essays under the lens and lead the class discussion as other students help revise and improve their paper”. In 2006, middle school English teacher Pat Harder made a similar comment to the online newsletter “Edutopia” about the document camera, saying that her students also loved being able to improve their writing skills with the camera called ELMO. Overall, students enjoy seeing their work on a larger scale and being able to turn a paper in a fun, hands-on activity that their whole class can be involved in.
In a science class the teacher can put up exactly what he or she wants the students to do and see. For example, you can put 3-D items on the document camera, so the teacher could put a fossil on the document camera for the whole class to see. Since you can zoom in with the document camera, the teacher could zoom in on a specific part of the object they are showing. The teacher could also do a step-by-step lesson on the document camera so
every one can see what they are doing together.

The document camera is a useful tool also when teaching mathematics to students. An obvious way to use the document camera is to place manipulatives such as counters on the camera and move them around to demonstrate addition and subtraction problems. Another way to use it would be to place a sheet of paper on the base and use a pen to solve the problems. This is usually easier for students to see than chalk on a chalkboard, and also when a problem is completed you don’t have to erase it. You can simply remove it and get a new piece of paper. This allows students to go back through your examples to help figure out how to solve new problems. Another great way would be to place a calculator on the base and then be able to show students exactly what button to press while helping them through a math problem. When teaching students about measuring items with rulers as long as the item fits on the base it will make teaching students how to use a ruler so much easier than walking around the room trying to make sure each student can see. A final idea is called the pause feature which is found on some document cameras. This enables the teacher to write a math problem down on a piece of paper. The teacher can than push the pause button and the image on the screen will freeze. Students can work on the problem at their desk, and the teacher can complete the problem on the document camera without students seeing the teachers work. Once everyone is done the screen can be un frozen and then completed problem will appear. The document camera has a use in virtually every class, and most lessons, and math is no exception to this (G, 2007).
Due to the simple, no mess quality of the document camera, teachers find many different, creative ways to incorporate the document camera into their everyday lessons. Teachers like the document camera because they simply have to roll the cart to the center of the classroom, place what they want their students to see on the base, pull down the white screen for the item to show, and turn the document camera on. All academic subjects, and even in classes such as art, the document camera is used to make the teachers day hassle free and the students day more interesting.

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Harder, P. (2006). Elmo tickles student writers: Using technology to encourage writing. Retrieved February 21, 2009, from http://www.edutopia.org/elmo-tickles-student-writers

Frembes, L. (2007). Focus on AV in edcucation: wired school district combines projector, document cameras, and powered loudspeakers for all. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://svconline.com/education/features/avinstall_focus_av_education/.