The reason that I was “pulling the cart in front of the horse” last week in my post about student media festivals was that I needed to get the word out about these upcoming media festivals with pending deadlines. (Please refer to last week’s post for more information.) What I have learned from last week’s post is that many teachers and parents want to know how to design lessons that maximize what their students already know without teaching technology skills in the classroom; consequently, I am writing this week to offer a few suggestions.
The first is that you need to assign the video project like you would assign a paper, and you must require a written script with specific academic goals in mind. For example, you could have students interview a famous person from your history curriculum. You then must have time to review the script to make sure that it has the proper and accurate content prior to the filming. Scripting is step one, and it is a very important step. You need to know what they are trying to put into the video so that you can offer suggestions during the design phase. Students should never start an academic video project without creating a script first because they won’t know what props they need, what content is correct, or where to stage the video.
You should also create a rubric of expectations so that students are clear that the video project must meet a clear set of defined academic goals. For example, how did the famous person feel about a particular movement or why did that person react to a particular event. Interviews rarely ask when someone was born or who their mother was. Students need scaffolding to make the project successful because they are not accustomed to asking interview questions. Perhaps spend time in the classroom talking about the types of questions that are valid and how does an expert reporter prepare for an interview. 60 minutes is a great resource for good reporters.
The final requirement that I have in my projects is role assignment. Students should work in groups of two or three. For example, I had my Spanish students do a cooking show where one student was the show host (writer and host), one student was the chef (writer and cultural expert), and one student was the videographer (writer and digital film editor). They are all responsible for the content, verification, and research, but there is a need to have specific roles defined to obtain a better projects. You will also find that there are students who want to be a specific role. Have them sign up and you make the groups based upon their role choice. This allows them to take ownership in the project from the beginning. This also guarantees that the technology experts have a chance to shine with the digital editing. I clearly define the roles prior to selection and we discuss what those responsibilities will be.
In conclusion, it is extremely important that you get written scripts from your students with camera angles, scene needs, and spoken parts so it is really clear that filming time is only for filming. Students can accidentally waste a lot of time looking for something or researching when they should have already written a well designed script. Finally, you should have a time to enjoy the final project where it is presented not only in their class for reflective understanding but also school wide to give them some recognition for their hard work. Finally, if you think it deserves additional recognition send it to one the media festivals that I discussed last week.