Trying Student Screencasts to Teach Programming

I am trying something new with the next Java unit that I’m teaching on methods. Through the first part of the year, my students have excelled in actually creating code and getting it to work. Unfortunately, when it comes to seeing snippets of code and explaining the terminology and concepts behind the code, the students are struggling a little bit.

For the methods unit, I have decided to do something new. The textbook that we have in class typically has a full example of code at the beginning of the chapter and then breaks it down into smaller parts as the chapter progresses. Typically my lectures demonstrate the breakdowns and the terminology, but I’m trying to find a way to improve what is going on in my classroom.

This time instead of having students reference the original code at the beginning of the chapter as the unit progresses, I had the students type the code straight from the book and screen capture the entire process without recording any audio. My plan is that as I teach the smaller concepts within the unit, the students will go back to the video and add the appropriate terminology and concepts as audio components to their screen casts. I am hoping that this will reinforce the concepts of the units and the students will be able to explain the code they see better.

I will post updates here, on Twitter, and on Google+ as the unit progresses.