One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my teaching is the importance of modeling for students before I expect them to do a particular assignment — writing, reading strategies, etc. It seems to make a huge difference. It seems, though, that since I’ve gotten a document camera, being able to either have students come-up and show their work examples — or me just grabbing them and showing them on the camera — may even have a greater impact.

I obviously also try to intentionally model appropriate behavior as well and, though I think it’s important — especially for many of my students who may not have any or few male adults in their lives — I’m not convinced that modeling is quite as effective in resulting in similar student behavior. It’s probably safe to say that peer behavior functions as a more effective model.

I started thinking more about these topics after reading Observe a Good Deed, Perform a Good Deed, a report on a study showing that students seeing videos of people performing acts of kindness were more likely to do altruistic acts themselves. Of course, this idea of seeing/replicating isn’t that new, and I’ve written about a similar study on a different topic in Self-Control Can Be Contagious.

But all this got my brain percolating. Since it appears that people might replicate behavior they see on a video, and that my students seem to take to heart cues that they get from their peers, I wondered if I should try an experiment: Why not identify specific areas of classroom behavior — for example, working in a small group and eliciting participating from everybody, and show students a video of their peers modeling that behavior? Then, telling them that one of their future projects will be to make a short video modeling appropriate classroom/learning behavior on a topic of their choosing.

I could see starting off early in the year having my IB Theory of Knowledge making a video and then showing it to my mainstream ninth-grade English class as a model.

I’m thinking it might have a positive effect. Or, at the very least, it couldn’t hurt 🙂

I know of a bunch of videos online designed to train teachers how to teach, but I don’t know of ones that are designed by students to help them become better learners. Maybe they’re out there. Does anyone know of examples? Have you tried doing something like this?