By Teachers, For Teachers
For decades, teachers have used videos as teaching strategies in the classroom to share information. These teaching strategies communicate messages with audio, visual, motion, color, and spatial details, making videos much more effective than traditional teaching strategies like reading from a text, lecturing, or showing a slideshow. As a result, students retain more information, understand concepts more rapidly, are more enthusiastic about what they are learning, and make new connections between curriculum topics and the world outside the classroom.
So why shouldn't students create videos when constructing knowledge for formative or summative assessments? Why insist they write a report, participate in a play, or create a poster instead? Here are eight reasons why students should always be offered the option of using flexible learning paths such as videos to leverage their ideas:
To tape a video, students must first prepare a storyboard that follows class writing conventions. Before they can turn the camera on, they must draft the script, edit, and rewrite -- sound familiar? That's right out of Common Core writing standards. When preparing for a video, students won't mind because they're excited about the goal.
To produce a professional video, students will need to practice good speaking and listening skills. That includes presenting their information for the varied needs of task, purpose, and audience. They must be comfortable and knowledgeable. They must appear to be experts in the subject as reflected in their dress, actions, and body language. They must share their information in a way that respects their audience and doesn't waste anyone's time.
To be knowledgeable onscreen requires preparation, and that is the result in part of research. That calm, assured presentation is based on a depth of knowledge on the topic being covered, only achieved by close reading of the materials. Based on the popularity of Genius Hour (often a research-based activity), students will like this step as much as the taping.
What's not to like about takes, retakes, dressing up, setting the scene, collaborating with friends, taking snack breaks, and feeling like a geek? I've never seen a group of students who didn't get fully involved in the taping (and sometimes fully distracted).
Remember the old-style camcorder movies students used to make? How kids worked twice as hard on that project as anything else they did? Today's videos have none of the complications of that approach but all of the excitement and fervor. Videos have lots of discrete jobs, from writing the storyboard to devising the costumes, preparing the setting, taking the movie, formatting/editing the raw data, and emceeing the presentation. For every job a student doesn't feel prepared for, there's a group member who does.
For some students, live presentations are painful. Whatever they know on the subject evaporates from their consciousness when they must stand in front of a room full of eyes all turned to the student. But if they can tape themselves, the agony and stress disappear, especially since they can redo the video until it suits their needs, and they leave with the pride of a job well done.
That's not just a threat. By middle school, it's a reality. Students see so many slideshows in their classes, they no longer include the wow factor felt in elementary school. Students glaze over and miss the important information they should get because their minds have wandered, dulled by the sameness of the presentation. Because videos are relatively new as a method of student presentation, that doesn't happen. They are engaged in classmate presentations, paying close attention, and involving themselves in the process.
Well, not as many as most students expect. Sure, you have to know how to start the video program, blend the pieces, edit/re-edit, render, and publish, but once the video is completed, it's easy to replay in the classroom. Rarely are there the types of problems that sometimes occur with slideshows, plays, and posters.
Once you've started using videos for student assessment, you'll recognize it as a sustainable, transformative way of learning, with a coherence unmatched by the “Usual methods.” Here are 17 video webtools that students will find intuitive, affordable, and get the job done:
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.