Improve Educator Practice With Video Annotation

A webinar featuring Dr. Ray Francis, Professor at Central Michigan University, on the use of annotated video to transform traditional teacher training methods and promote effective professional learning

Dr. Ray Francis, Professor at Central Michigan University, discusses the use of annotated video to transform traditional teacher training methods and promote effective professional learning.


Erin Stanley:

And regardless of the time of year, this topic is evergreen. This idea of thinking about how to improve teaching and learning with new teachers or with experienced teachers, Dr. Francis is the perfect person to speak on this, so we’re so thrilled to have him here today. He is a tenured professor at Central Michigan University and he works with novice teachers during their clinical experiences and student teaching. In addition, he has a ton of different areas of expertise and research that include student motivation in online learning, concept mapping, prior learning assessment, authentic assessment strategies, nonlinear approaches to promote learning. He’s also super involved with several accreditation agencies, so he has a really great understanding of the whole accreditation process and how it informs better teaching and learning. I feel like we could do a whole webinar series on each of these topics with Dr. Francis, but today we’re just going to focus on improving and enhancing teaching and learning through video annotation.

So this webinar will be about 40, 45 minutes long, and we’ll leave the last 5 to 10 minutes for questions, so throughout the presentation, if a question comes up, put it in the Q&A box and we’ll get to those at the end.

So we have a great group with us here today. From all over, look at that. New Jersey, West Virginia, Kentucky, California. That’s great. All right, Dr. Francis, I am going to turn the time over to you.

Dr. Ray Francis:

Outstanding. Thank you. I will go ahead and I’ll tell you just a little bit about who I am, a little bit more about where we’re at with this process and tell you what we’re going to be dealing with. I do work with a lot of different programs, and one of the things that we’re staunch advocates for is GoReact and how we’re using it. I’m looking at or we look at it from a variety of ways where we can move into going and using it to enhance the teaching and learning for our students. I’m going to go ahead and share my screen as we go about that. Pardon that part. All right, and one more click, and we’re into this. As we look at it, there are just so many different things we could focus at and to.

We’re going to be talking about elevating teacher professional learning and training with video annotation as a part of what we do or how we’re looking at this. The idea of annotations is absolutely not new. However, how we’re doing it is, where we’re going. Teacher preparation is changing, whether you’re on the, been in the classroom side, going into the classroom side, in the teacher prep part of an EPP or education preparation institution, all the different kinds of things we look at, it’s changing and the way we’re preparing teachers is changing. We’re incorporating more new technology. Technology that has not been around very long. Technology that evolved out of an essential need and the use of technology in teacher prep is just expanding greatly in that PreK-12 setting, as well as in higher education.

Now, there are a variety of different things that I will post this link in the chat in just a few minutes to the PowerPoint, so if there’s any notes you want or any things you would like out of this, I will give you the full presentation, but there are a number of benefits to annotated video systems.

I will also be among the group that a number of years ago wasn’t that much in favor of using video for teacher preparation. I know. Now I’m a very big advocate, and I’ll tell you a little bit more about that as we go, but in the evolving landscape, that is education, annotated videos give us some opportunities for some different things that are truly unique and helps our new novice maturing professionals to grow. It gives us records. It gives us all kinds of different things. For example, annotated video systems can provide us with a real-world relevance, meaning that annotated videos bring the real classroom videos to life. I’ll show you some still pictures in just a few minutes of additional still pictures, but whenever we look at things like this, as we see into the classroom, if you’re not familiar with it too much, you’re looking at it’s like, oh my goodness. A real classroom with a real teacher doing real, let’s call it education stuff, and it brings that real world into the realm of teacher preparation and professional development for teachers.

There is an authenticity in what we’re doing and how we are using it. It can bring in the idea of self-paced learning, meaning that in many different ways, what we do is create the opportunities for teachers to engage with annotated videos at their own pace. In my undergraduate courses, we work in both synchronous and asynchronous situations, and I will share a little bit more about those in just a few minutes.

Reflection and feedback are where my big push about particularly GoReact, but more also about annotated video systems has to do with lots and lots of different things, and that picture that I showed you just a little bit ago, no, I didn’t expect you to actually read it. However, I’m going to point something out. You’re going to see that in the GoReact system we use, there are a number of different things, and I’ll tell you a little bit about it, but you’ll see down here at the bottom of the screen you see that there is a running log of comments. There is also a running log over on the right-hand screen so that we can see, so that we can go ahead and gather information. It makes it really, really effective as a faculty member, but also for their peers because we use it more so in my setting related to peer feedback.

Now, there are other parts of our program where the student teaching clinical supervision, what we would refer to in my situation as our university coordinators use it also for looking at and doing it and being a part of the teaching evaluation. Ours isn’t quite like that though, in what we do.

Now, nice thing about these annotated video libraries is that as you look at it, they can be curated, meaning that for who and what you are, you can build and create a virtual library to address specific professional development goals. I personally don’t work in that area, but I do have a couple of colleagues who look at creating professional portfolios, perhaps using tools like GoReact to ensure teachers are able to do and to work with the things they are supposed to. Annotated video systems are scalable, meaning we can create and make not only high-quality professional development, but we can create it in such a way that we can do it for lots and lots of people, which becomes really exciting.

Now, I did notice in our chat box had somebody in there from West Virginia. I am originally from Marshall County, Moundsville, West Virginia, Wheeling Island, if anybody knows where that’s at, but I started teaching back in 1984. Oh, my goodness, that shows my age. However, my very first professional development event in New Martinsville, West Virginia on the Ohio River was from a man by the name of Harry Wong. Now, Dr. Wong or Harry kept in touch with him. We’ve been in contact over the years for lots and lots of different things, but in Wetzel County, he was my first experience in professional development, and he made a big impression, and one of the things that he said then that he continued to say across his entire career was, “The one who does the work is the only one who learns.” So if we’re going to have our undergraduate teacher candidates, our undergraduate student teachers, our novice teachers, our emerging teachers in the classroom to learn, there’s work that needs to be done.

Now, it doesn’t need to be busy work. It needs to be meaningful work, which is where we come into these annotated videos. Okay? Now, just to show you a few things on this teaser picture that I’ve been pulling in and out, and I’m sorry, but it’s just easiest for me this way. There are a few things to see here. If you are familiar with GoReact, you know that there’s a lot of things you can do, but did you know that you can embed files from your students? For example, it’s possible to go ahead and have them teach you a lesson, but to include your lesson plan copy in the GoReact file. Now, for those of us who have to live in the world of multiple computer monitors and things we’re doing, this is great because not only do you get to see, and not only do you get the experience of the teacher, but you have easy access to the file, the lesson plan, without navigating to and from, and this one also, you’ll see that there is a place for comments. You see the running list there. You see that there is also a place where we use rubrics extensively. There’s the instructions that can be in there, and there’s also some metrics that we can look at.But just so you know, there’s a lot of different things in this particular scheme of what it is we’re doing.

Now, our microteaching assignment, which I’m going to share with you over the next few minutes, is very straightforward. If you were certified as a teacher in the ’80s, ’90s, early 2000s, etc, you probably had some form of microteaching. If you were since then, you probably still had it, but you may have done it through a video. Our video system, our microteaching assignment for our earliest experiences for our student teachers when they’re out in the field is based on a couple of things. We take our student teachers in Michigan, we work with what’s referred to as the core teaching practices, different parts of the country they’re also known as the high leverages, high leverage practices, etc.

But we work with in our section either leading a group discussion, explaining and modeling contact or listening and interpreting student thinking. Those are the three things that my part of the program works with. It could be doing lots of things, other things too, but that’s where we work.

Now, as a part of that, we ask our students to plan to do the regular kinds of things you would consider to be a typical microteaching assignment to get ready and to teach something, right? The difference is, once they do that and then they record their video, they have some tasks that they’re going to do and then their peers are going to be doing, for example, we have them view their video to talk about their core teaching practice, what it is, how it fits, all those kinds of things.

We ask them to generate a couple of peer questions, questions directed at their group. Usually, we use groups of about four. Timing works well, bandwidth works well, our activities work well with it. And in saying that, the student first records their video, they create their explanation of what the video is. They then identify their peer questions, and then we ask them to make some rolling comments. Now, not sure if everybody knows that this comment piece over here continues along with the video. It’s matched. So as I’m watching the video, I’m seeing the comments that the students could make, and I can make my own annotations as well. It just works really, really nicely. So we’ve got the student peer questions, the rolling comments. Then we ask their peers to do a similar kind of thing. We asked them to go and make comments. Then we ask the student to go back in and review the comments and reflect on it so that it’s this ongoing conversation.

It’s not just me, but it’s their peers also providing feedback, so that as they’re going in and as they’re doing a variety of different things, we get it so that they are being in the moment, so to speak. I see that Bill asked a question there about rubrics. I love the rubrics. Here’s why, because whenever I went and click on the rubrics, there is a, okay, this will sound odd, but there’s a freeing kind of thing of saying, “Okay, here’s the rubric. I either see it or I don’t value it, or…” I mean, there’s the piece in there about rubrics, and then there’s my comments, so I can grade something, I can scale it. I can work with it as a rubriced activity, and then I can also provide the student feedback specific to who it is and what they’re doing. I just liked that. Sorry, I think I jumped ahead from Erin’s thunder leader, but I just saw the question and wanted to answer.

Okay, so what do we know is working well? A number of different things that are working is we are using existing effective instructional practices. What we’re saying is that good teachers are good teachers, and this helps them be better. Annotating videos helps them to improve teaching teachers and working with the growth and mentoring of new professions. It helps our new teachers move along. It works with expanding clinical and experiential opportunities because we are doing more, not with less, but we are simply doing more related to clinical and experiential opportunities. Our students are in the field more. Our observations of students are greater, their feedback is more targeted, and they are the kind of experiences that are helping them grow. Through not only that idea of, well, I’ve got to video record and upload my video for Dr. Ray.

However, now I’ve also got to go in and see other people teaching and provide them with feedback and interact, and all of a sudden we have moved from an activity to an experience where it’s interactive, although, perhaps not in a synchronous manner. It is interactive in an asynchronous style kind of a situation. You see, we are also promoting reflection and processing learning as we go, and we’re building collaborative, asynchronous and synchronous activities. It’s the way things are working and how they’re doing and what is going on that becomes important to all these different things that we see. Now, right one? This is a different setup for a classroom, not just for a classroom, but for an annotated video. You’re going to see a few things. You’ll see again, oh, there is for Audrey, there is going to be a document that has her lesson plan with her objectives, a variety of different things.

We see at the bottom, the running comments, the annotations that are made. We see them off on the right too. You also see these markers on the right-hand side. We have taken to using these more with our student teachers than with our early pre-service teachers and saying that, oh, okay, so when they see a particular type of activity or a particular behavior, they can click on one of those markers and it will give the student an immediate, immediate piece of what goes into the video. For example, in this one, it’s OP stands for open-ended question GEO stands for good teacher move. There’s a variety of them now. Oh, I see.

As we look at it, markers are things that are created when you create the assignment. If you’ve ever created one, an assignment in GoReact, there’s the place where you build it. You can create the markers and define them in there, or you can use existing ones, so they’re really easy to use in some different ways. You’ll see different colors. There’s closed-ended questions and students go through as they’re viewing, they identify these, and then they address questions, which then in Audrey’s case here, she would go back in and she would respond to the student’s questions by annotating within the video.

All of a sudden you have via the GoReact system an interchange of ideas and observations, and questions, and reactions, and feedback and evaluation, and you have all of it occurring within the video because the video is annotated. The other thing that I figured out, don’t know if this was intentional on GoReact’s part or not, is the idea of that if, let’s say Audrey, who is a wonderful student, did wonderfully well, let’s say Audrey went in and had a question and we chatted about it, I can actually go into this comment stream and I can edit my comment to update something based on what Audrey said, so you can go in after the fact and after you’ve made comments and update your comments even more. It’s wonderful. It creates additional dialogue. It creates additional ways for students to see things. It really, really does work well.

The rubric somebody had asked about, I’ll click on Audrey’s. You’ll see that there is just a, it’s a basic rubric that we use, easy to fill in because that’s the way we intended it. We look more at the annotations of the video as we go, okay, and pull this back out. Great. Now, we make use of the process and don’t let all the abadabas avakadabas and all that. I’m sorry for… Anyhow. When you think about it, as you look at how we do collaborative work, we can do it in a series of patterns. One pattern is an A-B-A-B poem. I write something, you write something, I write something, you write something, I respond. It’s a collaborative writing posture, partner activity, and you can do that with GoReact working in partners, so that you can be addressing questions, you can be making observations. You can do all kinds of things. We use this as what we refer to as alternating cognitive engagement, meaning we’re taking turns in looking at and working with particular ideas. I mentioned Terry Wong, and that idea of the one who does the work does the learning. This is a way to share the work so that one person is working and another person is working, and you come back and you share back and forth, in partners.

A second way, might I write something for my video and then person B writes something, C-D-E, and then come back and I respond to it. It’s a very linear kind of a process that everybody’s engaged in, and we still have additional engagement and learning going on. One that I’m a big fan of is this A-B-A-C-A-D-A-E-A, etc. What does it do? It means that the person who did the video responds to all the different comments as they’re coming in, so person A writes a question, B sends in a message, A responds, C comes in and writes a message. A responds. We have a lot of give and take and lots and lots of options that you can do individuals, pairs, groups, etc., to get the cognitive engagement that you want through annotated videos.

It’s really an interesting way to go about it and it promotes so much more than the current discussion board style of activities. When another one of the classes that I teach, we do discussion boards where it’s you have to post this, and respond to this, and do this, but this idea gives you the opportunity to have the common experience of the video and go back and review the video as it’s going on, and make the comments so that we can have a group of people making comments and being a part of things. So alternating cognitive engagement. I’ll include some resources in the citations as that comes out or is available to you. The reflection strategy, one of the things we found out is that you can’t just tell students to reflect. You need a strategy or a model. The model we use is called the IER model. It’s been around for a long time. It’s identify, explore, result.

You first have your students identify some particular event as it’s called. Maybe you’re looking for behaviors, maybe you’re looking for content, maybe you’re looking for something else. Then explore it. What do you see? What do you notice? How does it impact student learning and all that? Then the resolve portion is, okay, well, if that’s what we are doing, then perhaps one of the things we need to do is to go ahead and make sure that we’re having our students make a decision about something and by making a decision about something, resolving it cognitively so that if it ever happens again, they will be ready to move forward. That’s what’s going on in this particular class.

We have a student teacher named Allison. She’s talking about doing the lesson. She’s talking about looking and using eliciting and interpreting student thinking. What she comes to the realization is that that’s different than discussion. Now we teach that, we share that, but it’s a big moment when your students recognize it and then can move forward and act in a particular way. You see that in her markers, it’s the same color markers, all the different kind of things. And as we look at it becomes a way for our students to reflect as we’ve identified or they’ve identified what we’re talking about, our core teaching practices. They explore them by sharing, viewing, explaining, responding, observing, and then they resolve how would they change? What would they do differently in the future as a strategy for improvement? So again, it’s the annotated video recording that makes that possible. Mentioned we do it as individual responses. We can do it… Sometimes we do in my pre-student teaching seminar, we do a homogeneous group responses, so they might be grouped by grade level, content area, topic.

Other times they’re grouped heterogeneously by across grade levels so that secondary teachers can see what elementary teachers in some ways do. Or content or topics, different times and different themes and different ideas allow for different perspectives and responses in the GoReact system.

Now, oops, sorry about that. So as we look at all these different groups, all these different things and ways we’re doing stuff, we’ve got a couple of other things to consider within the individuals and groups what we’re using are best practices, and we’re not saying that technology is at all replacing who and what the teacher. Who and what the faculty in higher ed, who and what the university coordinator, or supervisor, and teacher preparation is. What we’re saying is that we can overlay technology such as GoReact or such as looking at annotated video recordings and make that instruction better, make it more powerful, make it more meaningful to students so they can come back to it and look at it again and routinely what our students come back with is after they’ve done the activity, after, they then have explained a piece of it. After they have done all these different things and their peers have reviewed it and I have reviewed it, and they’ve got feedback and they come into the next phase and looking at the reflection, they say very, very frequently, “I hadn’t seen that. I didn’t think of that. I didn’t notice that, whenever I was doing it.”

So they get to grow by using these different kinds of annotated video recordings. They get to enhance what they’re doing. They need to grow and they need to become stronger educators for our PreK-12 and above students. It’s a really neat kind of a process. The other part about it is it really is a faculty instructor friendly process. Once you set this up, the students are doing the work, and as my friend Harry said, “The one who does the work does the learning.”

They’re learning. They’re the ones doing the work, and you are seeing their progress. You’re seeing their leveling up, you’re seeing the way they grow. It is a really, really great kind of a process. So I would just encourage you in doing things to look at this annotated process because annotating the videos and then much like you would do in a individual or in any classroom, make use of effective instructional practices. Modeling. For us, it’s our core teaching practices, small group instruction, leading your group instruction, all those different kinds of things. Using perhaps the high leverage practices that are available in and through the University of Michigan. In looking at the way they have 19 practices that are correlated to effective instruction, what we’re finding is that when we take those instructional practices and we connect them with annotated videos and the activities that we can build in from those, they become stronger than just by themselves.

So this was not intended to be a how-to kind of a process, but more that you ought to try it, or see it, or work with it. But annotated videos and annotated video recordings are outstanding to use and extremely, extremely good and effective for your students to promote growth and promote all kinds of different things. There’s a model in here or there’s a document in here, and before we finish up in just a bit, I will give you a link for the PowerPoint presentation. I just have to close a couple of screens before I make a big mistake. However, that is where I’m at with this. If you have questions, Erin, I’ll leave you to-

Erin Stanley:

Thank you. Dr. Francis, it makes me reflect on my experience as a teacher. I did teacher training in the ’90s, my first year of teaching as a high school band teacher. I felt like I had no support and the process and the strategy you’re describing, the outcome of that is that new teachers are feeling supported and that’s what I love and that’s what I feel like teachers need. I mean, certainly I needed that, not just encouragement, but strategies to get better. Strategies to see the growth in myself, which I did not see. So I think it’s an amazing process, something I wish I had been able to take part in. So thank you so much for sharing all of that.

Dr. Ray Francis:

Glad to.

Erin Stanley:

I wanted to touch on Bill’s questions. Give you a few technical points about the rubrics and the markers, so we don’t have a way for you to download your or upload your rubrics. You actually do create them within GoReact, but we have a lot of tools to help you, templates, and we’re always adding to that template library and some utilities to help you build a rubric. Once you build it, it’s there in your library. You don’t have to recreate it, and the same is true with markers; and check out if you haven’t already, if you’re a GoReact user and you haven’t already, check out the template library. Some of the markers and rubrics we’re adding are specific to state standards, so you may be able to find your state in there, grab that. They’ll work with your edTPA or other kinds of state standards, so that’s to help make it easier for you and with the markers much like with the rubrics, once you’ve created it, you can use them over and over. You don’t have to create them new every time.

Dr. Ray Francis:

I’m sorry, one additional thing because-

Erin Stanley:


Dr. Ray Francis:

… I’m a firm believer in not recreating the wheel, but if you use the markers and if you have a group of five people and you pick somebody to be yellow, blue, red, green, etc. You can tag the comments that go with that and make it ever so much more personalized for students. Just use them. They’re great.

Erin Stanley:

So I did have another question for you Dr. Francis, I hear a lot from new teachers and seasoned teachers, they do not want to be on video. Have you found that to be an issue with any of your students and how have you overcome that?

Dr. Ray Francis:

It’s an easiest response in the world. Three words, get over it. We work with a successive kind of a process. We have them video to introduce GoReact, which we do slowly. It is an easy, intuitive kind of a systems use. Really like it. To get people used to being recorded. We have them do a 30-second elevator pitch. That whole if you’re stuck on an elevator with an administrator and you’re going to pitch who you are, they record that. That’s their first assignment. There’s no anything with that. Then next after that, we have them do that and respond to a peer. Then we move into… So we move them into doing it. You see a lot of our videos are shot at a bit of a distance. We try not to highlight student faces or anything that’s identifiable. That in some ways though, also makes it so you’re not getting to see the facial expressions and things of the teacher or our student.

But it works over time to get them more and more familiar. This group of students, for example, my current group that just finished up, they’ve been living on camera all of Covid, so that snarky comment, “Get over it,” really is… They’ve been on camera the past, their entire career. It’s older teachers who’ve been in the classroom for 12, 15 years that didn’t like using the videos, but they see the value in it. So it’s almost generational or almost based on the time you went through teacher preparation, but it’s worth it. It’s just wonderful to use.

Erin Stanley:

Well, and you mentioned that self-reflection piece. If you can get over watching yourself and hearing your voice, there’s so much learning that can come from that. So yeah, I agree with you. I think it’s something you’ve got to get used to. You’ve got to learn how to do.

Excellent. Well, thanks everyone again for joining us today. Thank you Dr. Francis for your time and everyone have a great week.