MEF funded the pilot of the district's first document cameras in 2007-08 for the high school math department. Since then grants have been awarded for over 70 cameras, almost 90% of the district's inventory. These 21st century versions of overhead projectors do much more in less time. Let some of our grant recipients give you a glimpse...
The camera is used all day, every day. Projected on the wall, my demonstrations of critical math manipulatives are easy to see, so the children grasp concepts more readily. When a text is projected, the class can participate in "close reading," where, after discussion..., individuals and groups can go up to our 4' by 5' page of text and make circles, underlines, and other marks for all to see. Student writing can be shared, improved, and lauded, to the benefit of all.
I use my document camera daily...I used it today to demonstrate to my group of nervous 5th graders how to open a combination lock (in preparation for the jr. school). I use it every day to put up the math homework so everyone can check their work. (I read the answers also, but for the visual students, it is extremely helpful to see the answers as well as hear them.) I use it in writing class to spontaneously to show off student's work in their notebooks (for the same visual reasons.) Any worksheet can be put under it, as well as picture books and 3D objects to show the class. It is really so cool!
The beauty of the camera is sharing student work at a moment's notice. In science lab we shared the results of simple machine activity involving each group's charts. Having children share their math homework is much better than going over examples prepared on an overhead by the teacher in advance. We have shared reading journals on an impromptu basis. The students have ownership of the whole process and can explain their work to their peers. They, in effect, can become teachers themselves! It is a very powerful tool in that regard.
Last month, [my second grade students] completed a project that was quite remarkable, and the camera made it all possible. In small groups, the children researched a particular insect, wrote about it, and then made an oral presentation [which] needed the children's original pictures and diagrams, not something taken from the internet....Scanning and importing a child's drawing is tedious and time-consuming, and the results are disappointing. Enter the document camera. In addition to live motion, it takes high definition still shots. The children drew beautiful, detailed, scientific diagrams of their insects. I placed them under the camera, and in less than 5 seconds, a perfect high definition image of their drawings was placed right next to the text they had just typed in. Then the children used the software to resize, position, rotate and frame the drawings. They even created labels with arrows. Using the projected file as a visual, the final products were presented by each group. The projects were a tremendous success! Please see the screen shots below to see for yourselves.
The kids are loving it and would like to know what happens if I put my face under it. I haven't tried that one yet!