Joe P. Gaston
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Jasmine was doing remarkably well with the fourth quarter video production assignment. Her team was tasked with creating a video that described the important geological features of their assigned North American shoreline. Jasmine took on the roles of scriptwriter and props manager. While most of the scriptwriting was completed in class, Jasmine took it upon herself to create certain props at home. She even used materials from home to create cue cards for her teammates who would be acting in the video. This was a big deal for Jasmine. It was a big deal because it was the first time all year Jasmine had done any schoolwork at home. Most of her middle school teachers attributed her refusal to do homework to her learning disability and her behavior management issues. There was something about the video project, however, that had her excited, motivated, and engaged.

Tanisha was growing more and more excited while her fifth grade class was in the computer lab. On this particular day, her class was learning how to use the video editing software, Movie Maker. We couldn’t help but notice Tanisha’s excitement as we walked around the room. Growing curious, we asked her teacher if she had noticed Tanisha’s behavior. Her teacher indicated that Tanisha loved movies. In fact, she told us Tanisha had a notebook full of movie scripts and stories she had written. We asked the teacher if Tanisha had made any movies based on her scripts. She told us she had not because she didn’t know how. It was then we realized why Tanisha was so excited. At that very moment the world of video production was opening up to her for the first time.

From a management perspective, when you decide to conduct a CVP activity with your students, several things will happen. One is that you will be giving up some of the control in your classroom. If this is not something you are used to, it might seem a little scary at first. The truth is, however, it can be quite a liberating experience. Another thing that happens is the change in classroom dynamic. When you give your students a project to work on that they are interested in and excited about, discipline issues become almost nonexistent. Students who typically act out or students who are often disengaged may suddenly become the group leaders or contribute in some other unexpected ways. You will also have the opportunity to remove yourself from the central focus of the classroom and take on the role of facilitator. So rather than standing at the board and teaching, you can manage the activity more successfully by moving among the groups to listen in on conversations, offer suggestions and advice, clear up misconceptions, and provide encouragement.

This activity will also give your students the opportunity to practice social skills in a collaborative setting. We are not born knowing how to work well with others, but most of us end up with a job in which it is expected. Learning to work well with others has to be taught and practiced. Sharing responsibility, listening to others’ ideas, resolving conflict, and working towards a common goal are just a few of the skills students get to practice when they work in collaborative groups. Students need as many opportunities as possible to practice these skills, and CVP is a great activity for them to do so.

Even though the responsibilities and expectations of the students will vary depending on their age, CVP projects can be conducted at any grade level and for any content area. Although kindergarteners may need help with shooting and editing video, they are perfectly capable of participating in all of the other steps described in this book such as storyboarding, scriptwriting, creating props, and acting.

When conducting a CVP project with students, it is usually best to use it as a culminating activity. The process of producing the video will give students the opportunity to revisit the content and study it more deeply as they discuss it with their groups, develop their script, and shoot their scenes. This means less time can be spent when initially teaching the material because the students will have the chance to engage with the content again during the CVP project.

Let’s say your students have been studying potential and kinetic energy in science. They have read about the two concepts, learned the definition of each, and maybe watched a video that demonstrates the difference between them. For the culminating CVP activity, you have asked the students to work in groups to create a video that demonstrates their understanding of the two types of energy. Aside from establishing the groups (Step 1) and having the students come up with their ideas (Step 2), you will need to develop some parameters. Students need to know what kind of time constraints they will be under, what type of equipment and resources they will have access to, and any other expectations you may have for the project. In terms of your specific guidelines, we recommend developing a rubric (see Table 1) that explicitly states what you will be looking for from each group and the points they have the potential to earn.

Table 1

Sample rubric

Criteria 3 points 2 points 1 point Score
Vocabulary Both potential and kinetic energy are clearly defined. Only one form of energy is clearly defined. Neither form of energy is clearly defined.
Example Video includes accurate examples of both forms of energy. Video includes accurate examples of one form of energy. Video does not include accurate examples of either form of energy.
Credits All pre-made content (songs, photos, etc.) are accurately credited at the end of the video. Only some of the pre-made content (songs, photos, etc.) are accurately credited at the end of the video. None of the pre-made content (songs, photos, etc.) are accurately credited at the end of the video.
Quality The video is not shaky and contains a variety of shot types; the audio is clear and intelligible. Either the video is shaky or does not contain a variety of shot types, or the audio is unclear or unintelligible. The video is shaky or does not contain a variety of shot types, and the audio is unclear or unintelligible.

When your students do a CVP activity for the first time, they are going to learn a great deal about the video production process. They are also going to get new ideas and learn new techniques from watching each other’s videos (Step 7). In many cases after watching the completed videos, students will want to do another video project so they can improve upon their craft. Our work with CVP has shown that when students are given the chance to do a second activity, not only does the quality of the finished product improve in terms of technique, but also students have indicated they are able to spend more time focusing on the content because they are more experienced with the overall process, thereby improving the quality of the content as well.

Like other culminating projects, CVP activities require some time to complete. The length of time required largely depends on the intentions of the project. Generally speaking, however, students will need a few class periods to flesh out their ideas, create their storyboards and scripts, and create or gather their props. Most scenes can be shot in a single class period if adequate preparation has been done, and students usually need two to three class periods to complete the editing process. This timeframe can obviously fluctuate depending on the age and maturity of the students but planning on 6 to 7 class periods to complete a CVP project is a fairly realistic time frame. Some teachers choose to spread the work sessions over an extended period of time, while others block off consecutive days to complete the project. In either case, adequate planning and preparation on the part of the teacher will be required if the project is going to be a success. It is the intention of this book to provide you with the information and resources you need to make CVP projects in your classroom successful, meaningful, rewarding, and yes, fun.

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