Have you ever wanted to have a clone of yourself?

Today’s Contributor: Alex Hubbard
Alex is a 6th Grade Language Arts and Science teacher at the Lee Elementary 6th Grade Leadership Institute.

When you hear the word cloning you might think of Dolly the Sheep, CRISPR, or maybe even Westworld, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about here. I’m talking about cloning yourself as an educator using screencasting and video technology. This was an idea I was first introduced to in the book Blended Learning Blueprint by Jamie Linton, and I have since discovered that it is a very useful and engaging tool in the classroom. 

What is educational cloning? 
Simply put- “cloning” is the idea that the teacher creates a video or screencast to provide new instruction or supplement face to face instruction. For instance, when you are teaching a topic- students have the ability to not only use your expertise face to face, but they can also access the information via a screencast to answer their questions. 

Why is cloning useful?
Cloning is useful for a few different reasons. First of all, it’s a powerful method for differentiating instruction. For struggling learners, it gives them a way to digest information at their own speed. They can pause and re-play a video as many times as necessary. On the other side, for your higher-level learners, they can zip ahead and are not dependent on the teacher to get through a whole group lesson where they may have to take more time and repeat information that they are already comfortable with or digest more easily.

In addition, in this ‘you-tube-centric’ day and age this format is more engaging to some students. They learn better when they are engaged with the content and get a kick out of seeing their teacher on a screencast, which is a common format for you-tubers to use. My own students have encouraged me to make my very own youtube channel with my screencasts and I think I’m going to do it!

Cloning also frees up the teacher’s ability to provide timely, effective feedback and assistance. Most teachers have been in a situation where they have a line of students waiting to talk to them. Some students wait and wait and this leaves them distracted and wasting valuable time that could go towards accomplishing an assignment. Well, what if your clone ( AKA screencast) could answer most, if not all,  of those questions? This would meet their needs and allow the teacher to focus more on other areas of support. 

How can you use cloning?
In my experience, this can be a great way to deliver content. For example, in a recent lesson, I gave students the option of watching my clone, working with me face to face, or using a textbook. This differentiation helped students learn the information in a way that worked best for their needs. I’ve also used it to supplement independent work after face to face instruction. I shared a list of screencasts that reviewed the concepts we had discussed and when students struggled they could visit the videos to review or re-learn the information. This allowed me to focus interpersonally on students who had a higher level of need. 
Over time I have seen this to be a handy and effective tool in the classroom. I hope you will give it a try and see for yourself. Go to www.screencastify.com and get the add on to start “cloning.” And remember there’s no DNA sample required!

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