Camera App + YouTube = Powerful Self Analysis

The Studies Show…

Athletes use it.  Coaches use it.  I had to use it when I student-taught.  More and more studies show that  video is a powerful tool when it comes to improving one’s performance in anything.  You can replay the same performance, rewind, watch it in slow-motion, and analyze the strong points as well as the week points.  So why not have students do the same?

First Things, First…

As the teacher, you need to set up a YouTube account.  This is going to be an account that all of your students can access, because you will be giving them the username and password.  It’s A LOT easier than having them all set up their own accounts, believe me.  Choose a username and password that is easy to remember for the students.

iPad…Camera App…Action!

Now you begin recording.  Here are some examples from my classroom:

I. Public Speaking – Tongue Twister Assignment

Throughout my Public Speaking class, we discuss and practice different speaking elements to hone our delivery (enunciation, nonverbal communication, etc).  Before the iPads, we would have to practice ALL of this in class.


  1. Students get in pairs and turn desks facing one another.
  2. I give a tongue twister.
  3. Students establish eye contact.
  4. Student #1 repeats tongue twister slowly and clearly five times, being sure to OVER ENUNCIATE every syllable.
  5. Then Student #2 takes his/her turn.
Almost always this results in students laughing, because it looks funny.  The main purpose of it so I can see them practice, because I can’t see them any other way.  And most, self-admittedly, don’t practice at home.  Unfortunately, the value of the exercise is lost.
With the iPad and it’s built-in Camera app, now I am able to actually assign this Tongue Twister assignment.  The process looks like this…
  1. Assign students a tongue twister.
  2. Students find a secluded area (at school or at home).
  3. Students open the Camera app and record themselves saying the tongue twister five times.
  4. Students must watch themselves and see if they did it correctly.
  5. Students email me the Enunciation Video along with a rating of how they felt they did (out of 5)
  6. I provide feedback, grade, and send back to student.
Because the video is usually less than a minute, the students are able to email it to me, rather than uploading to YouTube.  I have found this process to be substantially more valuable in a few different ways…
  • Students try harder – Students give more effort on the assignment, because they can actually see themselves perform it.  I could have them do the same exercise in a mirror, but the Camera app serves the same purpose plus it records it.  They also give more effort, because they feel it’s private.  They know I grade it, but it’s just them and the iPad – not a room full of other students. 
  • Reflection – Students are able to actually analyze their own performance and reflect on it, and try again if they wish, until they feel they did it to the best of their ability. 
  • Carry over to performance – The students that are the habitual mumblers, quiet talkers, etc. have seen improvement in their final deliveries of their speeches.  They enunciate and speak more clearly, according to them as well as other students in the class when giving feedback.  They said the enunciation exercises helped.

II. Public Speaking – Book Readings

We did a Book Reading speech to emphasize vocal expression when delivering.  However, I really wanted my students to do these book readings for elementary kids.  But I had 22 students.  This would have taken a whole week if I had brought an elementary class to my classroom and have us each read our books for the students (like I did the previous year with only 12 students).
Instead, we went to the elementary.  I simply did the following…
  1. I set up a YouTube account specifically for my class and gave the username and password to my students.
  2. I sent a group of five students to elementary classrooms during our 45-minute class period.
  3. Each student read their book to the class while one other person in their group of five recorded the reading with their iPad. 
  4. Once the student was done reading, the person recording would send the video to the class YouTube account as a private video (which can be done in the Camera app).
  5. Once they were finished, they returned to my room.
  6. Results…
While the readings were going on, I was able to peek into the classrooms to see how things were going.  By the time we all returned to my room, all of their readings were uploaded to the YouTube account as private videos.  Then later that night, I can watch them, grade them accordingly, and send the students feedback as well as the link to their video.  That way they can see exactly where points were deducted.  
After this, we started video taping all of our speeches in class.  I even had students comment and analyze each other’s speeches using terms from our class discussions.

III. Mock Job Interviews

With my Juniors, we did a Job Search Unit that went over cover letters, resumes, and the interview process.  When it came time for the mock interview, the student had to record the interview with the iPad.  Again, these were all done during a class period with different teachers and staff at different locations…22 students total.

By the time class was done, all were uploaded to YouTube.  I later graded and students reflected.  They were really surprised by some of their distracting movements that they were doing and didn’t even realize it.  The activity served its purpose.

IV. Reading Fluency

A lot of elementary teachers use audio recorders to increase reading fluency, so students can hear themselves read.  What about video?  Mark Gagnon wrote about the potential for this in one of his posts.

I haven’t tried this, but I wonder if it would be more effective then simply using audio?

In Conclusion…

Because of the Camera app and YouTube, I have seen improvement in student performance like I have never seen before.  I have been able to accomplish more in a smaller time frame including assessment.  One simple app has turned out to be an extremely powerful tool for self-reflection.

Mr. Bormann
English Rocks!

P.S. In my opinion, the Camera app is one of the most versatile and underrated apps on the iPad.  How have you used the Camera app in your classroom?  Do you have a classroom YouTube account?  How have you used that account?  Share in the comments below.


3 responses to “Camera App + YouTube = Powerful Self Analysis

  1. WOW!!!
    These are most ingenious!!!

    Your use of an easy app like the Camera app and then sharing it with the results of you using it with your students is terrific.

    I provides an valuable piece of information for other teachers.



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