Friday, August 10, 2012

5 Video Projects to Try With Your Students

Credit: Chelsea Davis
Video creation projects are some of my favorite things to do with students. I like video projects for a number of reasons not the least of which is that students generally enjoy them too. I like video projects because when they're organized properly students have to write, research, produce, and revise just as they would if they were writing a story or research paper. The difference is that shared finished video projects have the potential to reach many more people than a well-written essay does. Another bonus is that I can invite my administrators into my classroom to watch a few short videos and they can quickly see what my students have been doing.

Here are five ideas and tools for video projects that you can try with your students this year.

1. Biographical and Autobiographical videos: The first week of school is when we get to know our students, they get to know us, and they get to know each other. To help everyone introduce themselves, try using short videos created on Animoto. Have students select ten or so images from that are important to them or represent things that they are passionate about. Then let them select the music that matches the message they want to send to the class about themselves. Don't forget to create a video about yourself. When all of the videos are ready, have a little viewing party in your classroom.

2. Common Craft -style videos: Common Craft produces fantastic educational videos using nothing more than drawings, paper cut-outs, and voice over. I used that model last fall to have students tell the story of Lewis and Clark. My students worked in pairs to create images then narrate their videos. They took turns narrating and moving the images in and out of the scenes. We used Flip Cameras, but just about any digital video recorder will work.

This summer I've been playing with PowToon which allows me to create a Common Craft style video by dragging and dropping pre-drawn elements into each scene. PowToon is still in beta, but I encourage you to sign up for an invite. You can see one of my PowToon videos here.

3. Stop-motion videos: One of my favorite tools for creating stop-motion videos is Jelly Cam. Jelly Cam allows me to create a stop-motion video by upload images or capturing images with my webcam then playing them back at any frames-per-second rate that I choose. The latest version of Jelly Cam allows me to add an audio track to my project. Think about the possibilities for creating claymation movies with Jelly Cam, the next Gumby could be born in your classroom.

4. Documentary videos: Perhaps the next Ken Burns is sitting in your classroom right now! With We Video your students can collaboratively create documentary videos.

5. Flipped classroom videos: If you have been considering trying out the flipped classroom model by making your own short instructional videos there are plenty of tools available to you. Show Me for the iPad is one free tool that I like. I also like Screenr and Screencast-o-Matic for creating videos on your desktop. You might consider flipping the flipped classroom by having your students create short instructional videos to share with each other. Take a look at Next Vista for some good examples of students creating short instructional videos for each other. And if you are going to try the flipped classroom idea this year, please consider these three points first.

Animated Drought Map

A couple of days ago when I walked into my local farmers union store (it's where I buy dog food, I'm not starting a farm) I noticed a sign explaining that feed prices had increased as a result of drought conditions in the midwest and Great Plains states. This morning on CNN I found this animated map of drought conditions in the US since January 2012. Press play on the map and it scrolls through the areas of the United States that have experienced drought conditions this year. The map also shows the intensity of the drought conditions.

Applications for Education
You could use this animated map to prompt your students to think about and research the direct and indirect environmental and economic effects of drought. Students can research the impact on the places that are experiencing the drought conditions as well as the indirect impact on places far away from the location of the drought.

Discover Your World - An Activity Book from NOAA

Discover Your World is a free 158 page activity book from NOAA. The book is available as to download as a complete package in one PDF or you can download it in three separate sections. The sections are titled Explore the Earth, Understand the Earth, and Protect the Earth. In total the book has 43 activities appropriate for most K-12 classrooms but the majority of the activities seem to be most appropriate for grades four through eight.

Applications for Education
The activities in Discover Your World are hands-on activities designed to help students learn about topics in meteorology and climatology. A few of the activities that I like include reading nautical charts, building a barometer, and being a weather reporter.

Illustrative Mathematics

Illustrative Mathematics is a free resource for K-12 mathematics teachers. On Illustrative Mathematics teachers can find lesson activities aligned to standards for every grade level. When it is appropriate the activities include drawings and diagrams.

Anyone can access the activities posted on Illustrative Mathematics. You can rate activities and share your own activities if you register for an Illustrative Mathematics account.

Applications for Education
Sites like Illustrative Mathematics can be helpful for new teachers who are looking for lesson ideas. Likewise, Illustrative Mathematics could be helpful for experienced teachers exploring new ideas for teaching what they have taught for years.

Story Map - An Interactive Story Planner

Story Map is a free interactive story planning tool from Read Write Think. Story Maps provides four templates for outlining stories. To use the templates students title their stories then choose one of four templates to outline their stories. The four template choices are conflict, setting, character, and resolution. Students can print their completed templates.

Applications for Education
Story Map could help students get their stories organized before moving onto doing the actual writing of their creative stories. Read Write Think has many suggested lesson plans based on Story Map. There are suggested lesson plans for all grade levels.

H/T to Ana Cristina Pratas