Last Friday, I spent the best sixteen minutes of my K12 Online Conference with Film School for Video Podcasters by Matthew Needleman. Not only did I benefit, but so did my eighth grade students.
Matthew modeled great video podcasting. He opened with an intriguing story in images. Shot like a 1940's movie, I was drawn into his subject. As the presentation progressed, I was struck by the high quality of the video. Watching Matthew discuss his tips, I felt like I was watching a TCM interview with a director. He talks about storyboards, choosing shots, and the rule of thirds. There are many other hints along the way.
Why Show Students
My eighth grade students are working on a project tied into the annual DAR writing competition. This year's essay is based on the Gettysburg Address. After reviewing the first draft, the social studies teacher was concerned with the writing of some of the students. I suggested that the eighth grade could produce a series of short films for the sixth and seventh grade students.
The Video's Premise
I outlined the following for the students: In groups of three students, write a short newscast from 1863. You can either pretend: a) that you use time travel to go back to 1863 or b) that video interviews could be given in 1863. You will have one group member be the reporter. The other two will be people who were eyewitnesses to the event. We will be able to show the videos to the younger students. Hopefully, they will gain some additional insight into the speech from the perspective of farmers, soldiers, nurses, doctors, and wives of the men of the time. In order to prepare for the presentation, we looked at a sample of a newscast from Discovery streaming. It was a 1958 clip about President Eisenhower's wedding anniversary. Additionally, I wanted the students to see what could be done with images and sound. I followed the Eisenhower clip with a reading of the Gettysburg Address.
Eye on the Story
The students had worked on their story in Word for one class. When I saw the Film School for Video Podcasters session, I knew that my students would benefit. I chose the section on storyboards and the section on the rule of thirds. I could tell that they were drawn into the video. They were very attentive to what Matthew was saying. There was one boy who was literally sitting on the edge of his seat, leaning into the presentation. At the end of the rule of thirds section, he said "Wow, that's so interesting, I never heard that before".
Reality of the Storyboard
The students are still struggling with the idea of needing to storyboard their work. One of the students asked if they still needed to create the storyboard if they knew what they were going to do. I asked him if he knew what he wanted to do and he said yes. I asked him if the other two students in his group knew what he wanted to do, and he still thought the answer was yes. I told them that I still expected a storyboard, even if they didn't use it entirely in the recording of the video.
My Video Podcasting Past
Each time I create a video podcast, I learn something new. My videos have really been more like screencasts so far. The only full video I have created with students is a Population Density video from the sixth grade math class I taught last year. You can see how the rule of thirds was not even a thought in our mind. The students are centered in most shots and it is visually very boring.
The movies are going to remain in-house productions. I am not going to have the time to have the students find all copyright friendly images. If any videos can be put online, I'll explain it in a future post.
In the Meanwhile
If you have any interest in creating video podcasts, currently make movies with students, or create video podcasts with them - this presentation is for you. Spend a fantastic 16:31 minutes with Matthew and your videos will be on the road to being more interesting and take your student's work to the next level. Get ready to kick it up a notch.
Needleman, Matthew. Film School for Video Podcasters K12 Online Presentation. 2008 October 31. http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=329