Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lights, Cameras, Take Action! Producing Classroom Documentaries

A few years ago, while looking around for a tech project my 10th graders could do (Bad, I know! Putting technology before learning. I was ill-informed in those days….), I stumbled across the idea of classroom documentaries. Exactly what I was looking for: persuasive in nature, they involved research, writing AND technology. This was great! Never mind that I knew absolutely nothing about putting one together, let alone editing video… Well, the process was a resounding success, even if the documentaries themselves were less than examplar. I’ve blogged about that here.

Since then, I’ve not only learned to edit film and put together a few videos myself, I’ve developed the various aspects of the project until it runs fairly smoothly, excites and engages the students, and takes a whopping five to six months to complete. But the results are phenomenal, and I don’t just mean the actual documentaries.

I’ve been itching for a chance to help other teachers start using these as a classroom project, and the blog seems a good place to start with that. Thus, I embark on my first series, consisting of four parts:

  1. The Process: Stage-by-stage, I’ll summarize the steps for creating documentaries, and include a plethora of handouts starting from assigning the project and ending with the Academy Awards®.
  2. The Rationale: In the era of NCLB, what can possibly justify spending five or six months on one project? I’ll tell you.
  3. The Standards: Just what standards will this project help you meet? I’ll look at the new NETS-S standards, AASL’s Information Literacy Standards, and discuss how to design the project to meet content-specific standards.
  4. Resources: Links to tutorials, audio and image resources, plus a lot more.

Throughout the posts, I’ll be questioning and theorizing. I’m wondering whether I’ve micro-managed the process too much, and need to give the students more control; just when are you giving too much guidance?

So, tomorrow, Part One!


  1. Hi
    I just popped here from Class 2.0 and got you in my rss now. I look forward to viewing your work and getting some ideas.

  2. I am writing and putting together two webinars and a white paper that will be broadcasted /published nationwide in November (specific date to be determined soon!) to several thousand teachers and educators in K-12.
    The basis behind the webinar and white paper is to talk / present:

    1) Innovative strategies on how digital video can be integrated into lesson plans and classroom activities.
    (specific examples - to be given and shown - what tools are used etc - )
    2) How video production in the classroom enables the development of visual literacy, better connections with curriculum, higher order thinking skills etc. (specific examples - to be given and shown)
    3) Benefits and Importance of digital video in the classroom
    4) Choosing the right camera for your classroom/school - Why choose HD etc..

    I would love to have my interviewers talk to you and/or the teachers who are using digital camcorders as part of their curriculum. Additionally it would be great see examples of videos that have been made. Let me know so I can coordinate!

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