Student Algebra Videos made with iPods

Two of our 8th grade Algebra classes had previously used iPod Touch devices to run a QR code scavenger hunt to practice exponents and scientific notation. A few weeks later, the math teachers from these classes had an idea on how to use QR codes with their review for the final exam, which is still 2 months away. The idea is to have the students record video with the iPod explaining a concept from earlier in the course. The students would have to show a sample problem and explain the steps in solving the problem. These videos would then be made available online. A QR code and web link would be provided next to each problem set in the final exam review packet that the students would receive at the end of the year. If a student had trouble with a concept they could scan or enter in the URL to view the peer created video.

Activity Breakdown

To get started, the students were assigned a specific topic to cover in their group. Students worked in groups of 2 or 3. Each group had to create a script that showed their sample problem and the mathematical work for the solution. This script had to be presented to the teacher for approval. Once the script was set, the students had to rehearse their explanation using small whiteboards and dry erase markers. When the group was prepared, they were assigned an iPod to record with. To keep things simple, the students were told to record their explanation in one “take” so that no editing would be needed.

Total class time involved :
30 minutes at the end of a day when school assessments had been proctored
45 minutes in a following class to finish rehearsing, record, and submit video

Collecting the Videos

To turn in their finished video, students were asked to upload the video to DropBox. Each iPod had been previously logged into the same DropBox account. This would allow the teachers to access the videos without having to hook up each iPod by USB cable to their computer. There were a few cases where the videos were too large to be uploaded to DropBox. Most of the videos were between 1-2 minutes in length. Some groups went for 3 minutes, which created a file size that was too large to upload. In these cases, we had to connect the iPod to the computer with the USB cable and transfer the videos by cut and paste out of Windows Explorer ( just like a flash drive ) . This only occurred with 4 of the 20 iPods we had used for the activity.

Benefits of the Activity

The students had to really understand their concept to explain it well. After viewing some of the videos, we were impressed with the job the students did. A sample video on the equation of a line is shown below:

Equation of a line video link
We will have to wait and see how the students benefit from viewing each other’s videos when reviewing for the final exam. It should allow the students to get assistance more quickly than having to wait until they can ask their teacher in person.
The iPods were a great tool for us to use with this activity. We could easily record video and submit the videos in one collected area ( DropBox ) . The students were primarily engaged with discussing and planning the explanation of their assigned mathematical concept. The iPod was used without interrupting the learning process, similar to students reaching for a calculator to work on a problem. The iPods did not become the focus or center point of what the students were doing – the students used them as a tool only when necessary.


About John Sengia

Instructional Technology Specialist for a school district in York County, PA. Former science teacher. Looking to help teachers use technology naturally with their teaching instead of trying to "add it in" .
This entry was posted in Handheld Devices, iPod, Video and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Student Algebra Videos made with iPods

  1. Chris says:

    I love it! Make the content now when they learn it to have it available later in the year as a review for the final. Awesome idea. Any thoughts on how to get around the Dropbox limit next time? Require videos to be shorter? Use a different service? Compress the file further in a format that SchoolTube will accept?

    • John Sengia says:

      One of the ways to get around the DropBox limit is to have the students edit and export the movie using the app Splice. I discovered this by accident when one of our groups didn’t follow directions and needed two separate video clips combined to make their finished video. The export process made the file much smaller, as long as Standard Definition was selected for the Splice video.

  2. Andrea Deschamp says:

    I’ve been looking for ways to have students use our IPod other than for learning games. I am a first grade teacher and I am considering having student use the IPod to record a short summary of their animal’s habitat. Do have any ideas for making this process easier for uploading these short video segments?

  3. John Sengia says:

    Maybe the best way would be to have one or two students in your class become your video producers. Have the students record their explanation of their habitat on the iPod. Your producers would finalize the movie in Splice and upload it to DropBox. I have included links to two documents I use, how to edit with Splice and upload with DropBox
    You could edit these documents so that the students are mainly just following the pictures.

    You will need to install DropBox on each iPod and log them in to the same account. If you already have a DropBox account, I would make a separate one for your iPod use. This is a bit of work the first time, but then it gives you an easy way to collect all the videos and project them from your computer.

  4. Pingback: QR Code + Algebra Study Guide = Effective Review | Tech Tales from the Trenches

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