I began this high school Video Production class by applying Marzano, Pickering and Pollock’s (2001) strategy of “Summarizing and Note Taking” (p. 30). Since this was a new semester, I wanted to make sure that students understood how I wanted them to take notes in my class from here on out. I used a spin off a summarizing exercise that was an example from Marzano, Pickering and Pollock’s “Classroom Instruction That Works” where students had to select the most important parts of a paragraph (p. 31). This exercise was a bit bumpy at first but ended up being effective. Students did not fully understand how the summarizing activity applied to the class’ objectives, which is why it took extra time to get students going with this activity. The reason that I wanted to first give students practice in summarizing was because the cinematography presentation had a lot of notes for students to take and I wanted it to be done effectively. Marzano, Pickering and Pollock (2001) explain, “Verbatim note taking is, perhaps the least effective way to take notes” (p. 43). The summarizing activity ensured that students would not digress into just typing as quickly as they could word-for-word rather than really processing and digesting the information. However, it felt like I might have tried to fit too much into one class period. In the future, it would probably help to give better explanation for this exercise and possibly devote an entire class period to learning how to summarize.
Marzano, Pickering and Pollock’s strategy of “Identifying Similarities and Differences” enhanced my lesson because it encouraged students to process information together in a discussion. My approach aligned with Marzano, Pickering and Pollock’s (2001) first generalization where the authors state, “Presenting students with explicit guidance in identifying similarities and differences enhances students’ understanding of and ability to use knowledge.” (p. 15). Once students understood that I was going to give them guidance but not the answers, they engaged in an open discussion not only about how some of the cinematography examples were similar but also what made them different. Through this dialogue, students were able to recognize that the components that made the clips different were also what separated the good cinematography from bad cinematography, which helped students reach one of the objectives for the lesson.
The students’ discussion helped me assess their understanding of good cinematography, however, I later realized that this assessment did not give me thorough and in-depth data. After further thought, I also discerned that the summative assessment video project did indeed assess students’ understanding of quality cinematography but not soon enough. The students worked on their video projects for the next three days of class, and my feedback on their understanding of cinematography would have been helpful for them during this period. However, feedback was given to students after they finished their projects. For this reason, I think that it would work well in the future to ensure that my assessment of student understanding has a quick turnaround time in order to maximize student learning.
Finally, Marzano, Pickering and Pollock’s strategy of “Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition” worked very well with my class because this was a long period class where students were asked to be actively engaged for eighty minutes during the last period of the day. The students who put forth effort the entire time needed to know that it did not go unnoticed. Since this Video Production class is project driven, students already know that a portion of their grade will be effort and ability to stay on task. The authors (2001) explain that, “students can learn to change their beliefs to an emphasis on effort” (p. 50). This was a precedent that I had already laid down on earlier projects, and that is why it was beneficial to incorporate this into the lesson because it reminded students that they were still held to the same expectations. I could see a change in the student’s motivation when I verbally praised them for their involvement in the lesson’s activities. By the end of the lesson, I think that the students did learn the five basic shots and most of the students were beginning to understand the characteristics that make good cinematography.
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom Instruction That Works. Alexandria, VA: Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development.