Capturing Performance in the Classroom

Performance: Phase 2 CrossBraining App

( If you did not get a chance to read about Planning: Phase 1, click this link to check it out. Phase 1: Planning.)


Here is a quick recap. CrossBraining helps teachers and students capture and manage four phases of a lesson and or project.  There are three leadership roles in each phase: Reflection Leader, Capture Leader and Narration Leader. The four phases are: planning, performance, iteration and final product.    


Performance Reflection

Why does CrossBraining focus so much on reflection?  Reflection is the key to learning.  In an article called What Meaningful Reflection On Student Work Can Do for Learning, Mindshift wrote “Metacognitive reflection, however, takes this process to the next level because it is concerned not with assessment, but with self-improvement: Could this be better? How? What steps should you take?” a student who has learned the value of metacognitive reflection will recognize frustration as a signal to pause and think through the situation instead of plowing ahead with the same approach or giving up entirely.”


The group has their plan and is now ready to perform. The moment the group begins, each student in the group begins thinking.


The following video shows students going through all four phases and there is a moment in the video where a student says “If…”.  When a student says, “If” it means they have reflected.  Teachers need to hear those words a lot in class.


Here is a short list of words that show that a student is reflecting:

  • If I would have…..
  • Next time I will….
  • We didn’t
  • We should have…
  • One mistake we….
  • We feel that…
  • We learned to…
  • Now that we…


The students and I review this list and brainstorm about how to respond to their reflections, in their video.  The hope is that reflection will help them continuously move forward in their learning journey.


The goal of the teacher is to nurture their thinking process and help them drive their thinking in the best direction.  Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick said, “To best guide children in the habits of reflection, teachers approach their role as that of “facilitator of meaning making.”


The students in this group make a writing vending machine to sell their stories.  The whole goal of the project is to sell.  This means  the reflection should be centered around the sales.  Here are some questions that I provided the students:


  • Your craftsmanship will affect sales.  Is your vending machine made well?  Are you thinking about craftsmanship while you are cutting?
  • Are you picking colors that you like or have you researched colors on the Internet that help sell products?
  • Who is your target audience?  Will your vending machine attract this audience?
  • During the event, do you see something another group did well that helped them get sales?  Are other groups talking about ideas that you think would work for you and your vending machine?
  • Do you really care about the product that you are making?  If not, how are you going to still make a good product when you don’t really care about it?  What is going to drive you to make a great product?
  • Did you ever think about restarting the project?  What is keeping you from making it great?
  • Are you sharing some of your “ah ha” moments with another group?  Would you want another group to share their “ah ha” moments with you?


Capturing Performance

This can be very fun for creative students while others might not want to pick up a camera.  Collaboration between group members helps the capture leader capture the group’s performance.  The reflection leader and narration leader are continuously having conversations with the capture leader.  


These conversations will help the capture leader get great footage.  I always tell my students to do whatever they can to NOT capture group members’ faces.  The goal is to capture the lesson/project.  The group should discuss POV (point of view) and equipment they need to get good footage. Do they grab a GoPro or smartphone? What moments are taking place during the performance that show learning?  Should they be capturing measurement? Researching online for part of a lecture? Testing an idea?


You can see that what they capture is dependent on their reflection.  This will also guide the narration.  Imagine that  the lesson is about kinetic energy.  If the student is demonstrating a Hot Wheels car going around a loop da loop, shouldn’t the group have footage of the car going through the loop da loop while the narrator is explaining kinetic energy?  The team has to work cohesively to pull this off. This is a future- ready skill that all employers are looking for.


Performance Narration

Student voice is displayed in capturing moments but it really shines when a student is speaking about the learning that is taking place.  The group has reflected, talked about key moments that need to be captured; and if this is done well, the narration often spills onto the page.  The teacher will give the group a list of key terms that must be used in the narration.  Let’s take a look at the Vending Machine project.  Here is a list of a few key terms in that lesson:



  • Fiction
  • Non Fiction
  • 8x8x8 Cube
  • Light Indicator
  • Hydraulics
  • Sold
  • If we would…



Everyone in the group knows that in order to use these words in their 45-second video, they must reflect among each other and have a plan to capture these moments.  The capture leader must capture the hydraulics going up and down. Through reflection the capture leader will know exactly where to put the camera to do this.  


Some groups might decide to put the camera on the hydraulics showing the movement of going up and down.  The creativity and collaboration drive the decision making.  This also drives the personalization of the video.  No two videos are the same.  


The performance narration leader has an important role in telling the learning story.  They are storytellers of performance and it must be timed with the footage that was captured.  This narration creates an authentic moment to be fluent.  The group will practice the script that goes with the narration because fluency now has purpose.


Here is a screenshot of the beta app that shows the narration and video, side by side, with a timer that is displayed to give the narrator a time reference to guide their fluency.  If there isn’t enough video time, then the group will reflect to determine if they need more video or if they cut out words in the narration.  They all depend on each other to pull this off.

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