3 Unexpected Ways Your Document Camera Can Save Your Sanity

A few years ago, I unexpectedly received a doc camera from some local grant funds and…my teaching life has not been the same since.

The doc cam allowed me to completely change how I run demonstrations in my room. I was used to demonstrating to my middle school students by having them gather around a table. There, I would show them the various techniques, materials and outcomes for the day. This method worked fine — until my class sizes jumped from 20 students to 30+ students. Demonstrating studio techniques around a single table with 32 eighth graders the size of grown adults (especially on P.E. days) just became too much for all of us to handle.

Naturally, the doc cam was a great fit for demonstrating to large classes without the hassle of everyone standing around a table. Projecting my demonstration onto a screen at the front of the room meant no more “so-and-so touched me!” or “I can’t see!”  However, the benefits didn’t end there.

I came to appreciate how my doc cam was more than just a way to project my demos on a large scale. Here are three unexpected benefits of having a document camera in the art room.
 
doc cam 1
 

1. You can use it as a personal lesson recorder.

I realized soon after I started using the camera that one of the major benefits was the video recording option. Since I teach the same class four times a day, I always record the demonstration that I give to my first-hour class. I then use that video demo with my other three classes throughout the day. This method leads me to reflect on and evaluate my instructional methods repeatedly as the day goes on. I’ll often stop the pre-recorded video and re-explain concepts to students if they look lost. It’s almost like having two of me in the room. The students watch my demonstration on screen, but I can provide live commentary at strategic points of the video demo. Using these recorded demos also works great for students who were absent and need to see the demonstrations from days missed.

 

2. It makes keeping instruction consistent a breeze.

Because all course sections are essentially watching the exact same demo, the consistency of how and what I express to each class is identical. This solved a major issue for me, as I used to struggle with being consistent when explaining assignments or teaching new concepts over and over. Now, I am confident that all students are receiving the same information. Using a doc cam in this way could be a huge benefit in an elementary art room as well, where a teacher might see sections spread out over a number of days or weeks.
 
Doc- Photo #2

 

3. It saves your voice and your energy.

Since teaching art all day requires never-ending endurance, I used to leave feeling absolutely exhausted. Recording my demos has helped me get to the end of the day with more energy and a level mood. It’s almost like semi-flipping my class. Although the kids are still seeing the demo during class time, the time I spend answering questions and helping during work time is much more involved because I don’t feel like I’ve exhausted all my energy during my demonstrations.
 
Doc- Photo#3
 
Although I do occasionally still demonstrate live at a table with all my students standing around me, I am increasingly pleased about how my document camera has changed my teaching style and helped my classroom management.
 
 

Do you use a document camera in your room? What benefits do you see?

Do you have any other tricks to save your energy throughout the day? 

 
 
 
 

Tracy Hare

Tracy is a middle school art teacher from central MN who strives to create rich, meaningful content and resources through her Art Ed PRO Director role at AOE.

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  • Michelle Mathias

    I love our Lumens! I’ve actually begun recording books I read aloud to begin a lesson. Then, if I choose to teach that lesson again next year I will have the same book! No need to frantically run to the library to find that book that is checked out to a student who moved in September! YAY

    • Krista

      What a GREAT idea!! I’ve used an iPevo document camera, however, it does not record anything.

      What is a ‘Lumens’? I just googled it and I’m not seeing it coming up as a document camera.

      • Michelle Mathias

        I may be calling it the wrong thing… i’ve heard my document camera called a ladybug or a lumens.. Maybe one of those terms is for the software?

        • Tracy Hare

          Lumens is the company that makes Ladibugs. Great products!

          • Beth Ivens

            How well does the lighting work with the ladybug. I have a Hovercam and if I demo color mixing, the colors are terrible. So I’m looking for something that has great lighting and color. Have you had any issues with this?

          • Tracy Hare

            Hi Beth-
            My colors are typically not great either. After I am done demonstrating I always show the examples live to the class so they can see the difference. That is a downfall to these cameras…

  • Phyllis Bloxson

    I got mine at the end of the year last year and am thrilled with it. I used to waste supplies doing about seven of each project with the children. I teach grades K-5th and by the end of the day I was spent. Now I only have to demonstrate a few times. I used to use the paint program to demonstrate but that had a disadvantage since the things didn’t match the students medium. The children are haveing much better understanding of processes as well.

    • Tracy Hare

      Love the fact that I save supplies too!

  • Connie Z

    Just got one this year but have barely begin to use it. Question: I like the change of place and change of my tone of voice used when I give a demo in one part of the room. I guess I could do that with the doc camera. But any comments on this?

    • Tracy Hare

      Connie- can you use a mic with your camera? That may be the only way around your issue.

  • Laurel

    I have used an Elmo in the past and would like to know which doc camera is the best as the Elmo doesn’t always have the greatest lighting or catch my movements as well as I would like. Which brand does everyone else prefer?

    • Tracy Hare

      I really love my Ladibug…doesn’t take up too much space on my desk either.

  • Stephanie

    I have a Mimio document camera, however, I don’t know how to record sound with the visual demo. I would love to use the demos when I have a sub so the students won’t miss too much instruction.

    • Elizabeth Castor

      if you are making a video w/o sound make caption cards (like an old time movie) that tell what the next step is… then you can post these caption cards on the board for when the video/projector is off. (PLUS you could scramble them up and have an impromptu quiz!

  • Ak

    If One had a doc camera…

  • Elizabeth Castor

    ALSO… since its recorded you can save it and share it with students who are absent, or with Parents who have questions.

    For professional work, you can create a portfolio of such lessons and be able to share that with other art educators in your district, on your class website (if you have one) with your administrator (to help invite them in to see what’s new!)

    Lastly, you could make a batch of small, one-day project videos that you keep on file and use for substitute days… the plans are already ready and just have to run along :)

    • Tracy Hare

      Great ideas! Just the fact that absent students can watch demos when they are back in class is a sanity saver.

  • Lynn Haynes

    I have an elmo and love it! My students display their work at intervals during the creative process and get peer feedback. They love doing this. Also- when we present a new lesson students work in pairs to present different aspects. They love to work at the camera and the kids are really focused when a student is presenting. We just have a bit of a challenge with projected colors changing from the original. We have tried to adjust settings and have switched out projectors. Still no perfect solution.

  • GAGirl1963

    I demonstrate each time I introduce a new application technique. I just received a new document camera yesterday. I am so excited to begin using it for my demonstrations!!

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