Video projects teach students to plan, organize, write, communicate, collaborate, and analyze. In fact, video has become so prolific that some colleges even include video submissions as part of their application process. As this media further matures, students may need to be able to express themselves as effectively through moving imagery as with the written word.
Using video could be as simple as recording a student oral presentation for future review, or as elaborate as producing an original short film. Depending on the complexity of the project, consider these suggested steps for ensuring that your students create thoughtful final products that demonstrate their knowledge rather than pieces full of flash but potentially lacking in substance.
- Outline: Students should start by outlining what they have to say, what they intend to show, and their main points.
- Script: Whether the students are going to perform in their video, use a voice-over, or simply write captions, they should know what they are going to say before they begin.
- Storyboard: Students often have higher expectations than they can actually deliver. Having them present a storyboard before filming, makes them plan each step of the process and encourages them to gather resources in advance. ReadWriteThink, a website sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has this rubric for assessing storyboards.
- Filming: The key to a good video project is the actual raw footage. Consider blocking a few times for recording and having an alternate activity available for the rest of the students.
- Editing: Tools such as Microsoft MovieMaker, Apple iMovie, and Pixorial easily allow students to add soundtracks, voice overs, special effects, captions, and titles. Visit our video apps page for more ideas.
- Publishing: At the most basic level, a camera can be plugged in to a TV or projector and shown to the rest of the class. Online video sharing sites (YouTube & Vimeo) and class websites provide students with an even broader audience. Before publishing a student video, make sure that you have checked your school’s Acceptable Use Policy, and also made sure that copyright infringement has not occurred. For more information on the latter topic, check out our Creative Commons page.
Video File Formats
One of the most complicated aspects of working with video is interpreting the various file formats that work with cameras as well as editing and publishing tools. The list below are the most commonly used and accepted file formats.
- m4v - Created by Apple, most video files in iTunes use this format, and most players can open an m4v file.
- mp4 - iPods and other digital audio playing devices made the mp3 famous as a format for streaming music. An mp4 is similar but includes the video files. This is a universal file format that works with all types of players and editors.
- mov - QuickTime video creates mov files. These files work best if you are using iMovie for editing. However, they are often slightly larger in file size.
- wmv - Widows Media Video, developed by Microsoft, used to only work on a PC. However, downloads such as Flip4Mac, converts wmv files so that they can be viewed or edited on a Mac and iMovie as well.
- Flash - This product from Adobe creates a variety of formats (swf, f4v, and flv) that are used frequently by video sharing sites such as YouTube or Vimeo. When viewing a video on the web, it is frequently displayed as Flash, though this is beginning to change.
Video Sharing Sites
One of the greatest benefits of using video is the ability to publish projects for other students, teachers, and family members to see. The sites listed below all offer free accounts for video hosting and publishing.
Anyone can set up a free YouTube channel – especially with a Google Apps for Education account. Some schools or teachers may even create one just for student projects. It is simple to upload videos to this website and then share them with your school community. One word of caution would be to enable comment moderation to protect your students from inappropriate commentary on their videos.
SchoolTube is a k-12 specific video sharing platform. It is moderated by educators and therefore a bit more of a controlled environment. Teachers and students can post their work to SchoolTube.
This video sharing site strives to create a virtual educational community. Though primarily used for posting instructional videos made by teachers, student works can be uploaded after creating an account. TeacherTube also provides good examples of educational videos on which student projects could be modeled.
In addition to having the same uploading, comment moderation, and sharing options as YouTube, Vimeo also allows users to organize content into albums and channels as well as to create custom viewing options. For an annual fee, a Pro account provides even more features. Vimeo also has some great tutorials on its website vimeo.com/videoschool
As an alternative to YouTube and Vimeo, Blip.tv is an outstanding video sharing site that will not only host your videos, but will allow you to distribute them from Blip to a number of online media sites including YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and Twitter.
Though usually considered a photo sharing site, Flickr does allow video uploads for files that are under 90 seconds in length and 500 MB in size. If students have created short videos, such as advertisements or public service announcements, then they could be published to Flickr.
With a Google account, video can be uploaded to Google Drive and then shared out to any designated audience either via a direct link or with an embed code.
How to Integrate Video
From filming scripts, to creating original short films or slide shows, video can be integrated in a variety of ways.
A book trailer essentially is the same idea as a movie trailer – it provides a dynamic way to introduce the plot, characters, setting, and conflict to entice a viewer or reader to seek out the full version. Students could use this concept to demonstrate their knowledge of a historical event, document, or person.
Students can use video to re-create their interpretation of significant scenes in the books. By using video, rather than just performing a skit, students can also integrate music, images, and even other video clips.
Public Service Announcements and Advertisements
Students can use the format of a public service announcement or advertisement to teach a concept, explain a theme, promote an author, or market the book itself. These formats can be applied to practically any topic. Resources and rubrics are available through Thinkfinity.
“Nation” was created by two 8th grade students as a book trailer project as the culmination of their summer reading work.
Common Craft is an organization that creates videos to explain complex concepts with a simple approach, paper cut-outs. Below is an example of a student created Common Craft style video project and a few ideas to consider.
RSA Animate videos are slightly different than Common Craft videos, as someone is filmed with a dry erase marker writing words, pictures and ideas that is then speed up and has narration edited over the original footage.
Within YouTube there is a feature called the ‘Spotlight Tool‘ that allows a video to have a hyper link embedded within the video. By using this YouTube feature, students can create multiple video segments that can be linked together to create a Choose Your Own Adventure video project.