Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

That’s Entertainment

A few weeks ago I introduced my students to the world of video editing through Windows Movie Maker. Not the best, I know, but it’s free of price and strings and (provided that you convert all the video) pretty easy to use.

This week we made several entertaining videos. These met with mixed results. I would not call this lesson a failure exactly. But I definitely should have given my students more parameters in making it. A few started with very clear ideas, such as making a video of Hatchet by Gary Paulson. Another group parodied Twilight. A few had good ideas that fell short very quickly, such as the monster movie that resulted in more prop-building than actual filming, and a group that wanted to make The Jeremy Lin Story only to get frustrated with details when they couldn’t make convincing jerseys.

On a side note, it makes me a little proud that in a town that is 99.9% Norwegian, my students still felt that the only hurdle to making a film about their favorite ball player was the lack of jerseys.

Then there were the short and sweet films—the ones with a clear idea and low production value. For example, one group made a movie consisting of K-3rd grade students telling knock-knock jokes. They had enough time left over to make a ‘documentary’ on Japanese candy. Another group made a great short lesson on how to play a simple 3-chord ditty on the ukulele.

Would I do something different next time? Probably the usual teacher-solutions of controlling the size and members of groups, and making the movie a contract/project: In order to get their grade, they would have to make the product that they promised to make, much like a real producer demands results. Their final assessment using these skills is to make a documentary that ties in with their environmental science essays. It’s a project where every student has to make a movie—no freeloading.

But in the meantime, I sit back and enjoy a chuckle on behalf of my students:

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