Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Making Waves" Videos

This is a follow up post to my 7th grade Wave Video project. I want to put down my final thoughts evaluating it and how I can improve on it next time.

First of all it took much longer than I expected. We spent about three weeks on the project when I thought it would only take two. It also lacked a bit of focus in the beginning. I did not have any specific examples to show them and it was hard for them to visualize what they were supposed to do. I told them to think about a Bill Nye video how he jumps from talking to video back and forth to make it interesting. I also introduced too many new tools and options to them at once. I think they were overwhelmed by the openness of the project and needed less choices and more structure. That part is really hard for me because I want to challenge them to be as creative and give them as much choice as possible.

The original plan was for them to make a storyboard in PowerPoint as an outline of their presentation. This was not supposed to be their actual presentation. They had a hard time understanding this and did not want to make a second one. The science topic, waves, was also not a particular easy one for them and some of them picked sub-topics that were not really under the main topic such as microwaves and heat waves.

We also had multiple technological problems getting everything to work. I spent so much time on trouble-shooting software that I could not give enough feedback about their ideas and process as we went along.  Unfortunately many of them turned out as screencast slideshows of power point while they read facts from wikipedia that they did not even understand.

I will share two of the best ones, what I like about them, and how I will improve this project next time.

This group got the main purpose of using multiple tools to present the information in multiple ways to make it interesting. They used Powerpoint, Pivot, and a collaborative online whiteboard. They put everything into Camstasia Studio and edited it together in a smooth manner. I wished they would have recorded their narration in my closet so they did not have the back ground noise, but overall it is quality content and work.

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This group used my Pulse smartpen to create a video modeled after the work of RSA Animate such as seen here with Sir Ken Robinson. They wrote out their script and practiced the drawing ahead of time. Then they did it "live" in the hallway and recorded as they drew. On top of the presentation method they explained the topic well and used creative examples. They edited out mistakes in Camtasia for their final product.

One thing that stands out about both of these examples is the creativity of the presentations and using their own words. I plan to show these as examples the next time we do this project. I also am going to make my own storyboard for the first video in PowerPoint to show the students the difference between a storyboard and a finished product. A further thing that will save the students and myself alot of grief is that we will have google accounts and use Documents and Presentations to share work instead of email. Enough of the students did not have email accounts to make this a major pain.

We spent alot of time talking about plagiarism, especially of images. Next time we will also talk about plagiarizing of words and ideas also. I really believe that having student examples will help. I have worked out enough of the technological kinks that next time I should be able to spend more time helping students with ideas and design.


  1. Is it better to be exposed to many different tools, skills and concepts, or learn MORE from only a few?

    I have the same issue with my 11th ad 12th graders in my brand new Game Development (and mobile development) class. They don't have the benefit that my future classes will have - those good and not-so-good examples.

  2. Great question Steve. I guess I lean towards exposing to many. In a perfect world I would do both.

  3. I LOVE these ideas! I work in an Elementary School and have my students make videos as end of unit assessments as much as possible. I am actually leading an afterschool movie making course on stop-motion self drawn animations, and am hoping that it will lead to even more movie-making opportunities in the classroom.
    Thanks for sharing how you are using it, it's nice to have other examples to share with my teachers here.