Imagine you’re sitting on the other side in your classroom – you’re now a student. Your teacher says you’re going to make a video as your next project. You get to work in a group with your friends and use your phone. Yes, for real, use your phone at school and take video! Sounds good, right?
Ok, back to teacher mindset! Using technology in exciting projects to increase student motivation also increases their investment in the process meaning they’ll learn more. Video production falls into the category of creation which is one of the higher orders of thinking in Bloom’s taxonomy. It’s very versatile as well, and so can be used for most age levels and almost any subject area. By now, I bet you’re convinced that video production is a great tool for your classroom. The next step is figuring out how to do it!
What Do You Need To Get Started?
Take a look at these easy to follow steps for getting your video production project onboard.
As with any new concept, preparing your students with some background knowledge before they get started is key to ensure they get the most out of the experience. When using technology, you’ll also want to make sure some ground rules are also set.
- Rules: Explain to your students that the technology being used is a tool and they should use it. Also explain that they should be very careful with the equipment because it’s expensive! Go through some basic ground rules (avoid eating while using the equipment, use safety straps, etc.) (1)
- Understanding the Medium – Some activities to acquaint students with film and video concepts can be useful for getting your students’ wheels turning. Toilet paper tubes can be used to imagine the “window of the world” that the camera captures. (1) Have students think about what’s included on screen and in each shot and what it adds to the video. Also consider teaching about shots and scenes by watching video and having students notice when editing happened. Think about perspective. Have students experiment with their toilet paper tubes “shooting” from the floor, from above, close up, far away, etc. Consider doing a number of these preliminary activities to get students ready before using real cameras.
Obviously you’ll need some recording devices. You can go as simple as phones and tablets that your students might even already own and be able to bring in to use. Digital cameras that can take photo or video also work. Or, if your school has more resources, you might have access to fancy news –style digital cameras with those fluffy moveable microphones and all! These might require a bit more planning and practice as the equipment isn’t as familiar, but definitely worth the effort.
Choose A Video Editing Program
You’ll also need to make video editing available to your students. There are many programs that you can choose from including Microsoft MovieMaker, Apple iMovie and Pixorial. Having computers available and taking students through some of the basics such as adding soundtracks, titles and voiceovers can be helpful. For older students, you might even be able to expect them to do some of this at home.
Teach the Technology With Beginner Projects
Even after doing some preliminary activities, doing some beginner projects can be helpful before getting into real meaty, complex projects. This will give students the chance to experiment with the technology and get comfortable with the camera’s capabilities and the editing software. Check out these ideas:
Phrase into Video
Choose an interesting phrase or line from poetry and ask students to turn it into a 2 minute video. For example “To be or not to be” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet or “The eyes are the window to the soul” or something similar. See what they come up with! (1)
These are mini-videos with no sound. Have students make a GIF about a classroom topic or vocabulary word. It’s short and sweet. (2)
Ask students to find an everyday item and show something new and exciting about it using video. (1) Students should use perspective, proximity or time to do something new and different with this every day object. Think super close up shots of a dandylion with a narrator speaking as an ant describing the yellow forest ahead of him.
Then Challenge Your Students With Advanced Projects
These project ideas will challenge students to be creative using classroom content, research and more high-order thinking as they plan their video production and then follow through. Here are some ideas:
Particularly good for subjects historical events, having students imagine a reenactment of a moment, part of a novel or scientific discovery are a great way to get students deep into content. Students will have to imagine how they’d dress, talk, what objects to use on set, etc. Of course, the sky’s the limit – allow students to use puppets or other forms of expression to film their reenactment.
Have students pick a person real, historical or fictitious and create a video about that person (1). Could include interviews, daily activities, secret sides to the person, vignettes of getting inside the person’s thoughts/head, etc. This could work really well to do character studies when reading a novel or studying a historical person.
After videoing themselves drawing on a whiteboard speed it right up and add a voice over (2). This is a popular way to do videos right now and there are a lot of examples. The sky’s the limit for appropriate topics – pretty much anything could work!
You can use this one either with current events or to exhibit specific fictitious or historic events – a news show can be quite versatile. It could be used alongside a novel study to show news from the events that happen in the novel or scientific achievements, historical events, health crises or even advice. The students can do it “news desk” style or have roving reporters as well. Interviews are a great component to include in this project.
Finally – creating a trailer for a book they’ve read is a great way to sum up the main points. Students can use their creativity and really delve into special effects and editing for this type of project.
You Should Also Consider…
Once your students have finished their videos, consider having a special event to screen their videos. I don’t mean just play them to the class – consider making a big deal out of it – afterall, they’ve probably put in a lot of time and effort in creating their videos. You could host a parent’s night, get a projector out, make some popcorn and show the videos for parents and students alike. This will also set the bar high when you present the project to students. Also consider “publishing” videos by putting them on youtube or your own website or blog so parents and relatives can see.
Throughout the project pay attention to those without as much technological experience and encourage students to share skills with each other. Allow for teachable moments among your students. Remind them that everyone has different experiences and those with more camera and computer knowledge can share what they know with others.
Teamwork – you’ll probably have your students working in small groups while completing their video production projects. Check out this helpful article for how to help ESL students with teamwork.
Instant engagement from your students is almost guaranteed with student video production projects. Remember to set them up for success by teaching the medium and leading them through some beginner projects. Then challenge them with the hard stuff that goes deeper. Plan for a way to include this excellent teaching tool into your curriculum and look forward to seeing great things from your students!
1)Garrison, Andrew. “Video Basics and Production Projects for the Classroom” Center for Media Literacy http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/video-basics-and-production-projects-classroom
2)“20 Video Project Ideas To Engage Students” Ditch That Textbook http://ditchthattextbook.com/2014/02/06/20-video-project-ideas-to-engage-students/