Today, the students had time in class to write their commercials and do some filming. Some opted to film outside of school (which always makes me nervous,) but they still needed lots of time to construct their scripts.
When designing this project, I was very careful to require scripts. Why? Because eighth graders, when given the option to "wing it," will always take that option. And, as you will see the students discuss in the video in the next section, it is hard enough to stay focused on the task at hand, without the additional burden of improvisation added into the mix.
The assignment required the students to develop three arguments for saving the book. When I discussed the assignment, I was careful to point out the importance of having good reasons for saving the book, which contrasts greatly with the approach many censors have book banners have taken over the years.
I like this project, because it is, in part, a celebration of the freedom to read, but it also gives students a bit of practice for supporting their points of view.
After the students had their scripts and plans prepared, I allowed them to start filming.
I am not going to lie: it was chaotic. I had students outside my door (in the grass), students in the hall, students in the library, and students in our IRT office (thank goodness for the kindness of our Instructional Resource Teacher.) They had iPods, phones, and Flip cameras. They were not quiet, but they were working. They were trying to make awesome videos.
The best part about an assignment like this is when you observe students really working hard: referring to the script, referencing the rubric, reviewing footage. At that point, the assignment ceases to be product of the teacher and becomes a product of the student. That's exciting.
Note: Ultimately, some of the videos were great, and some were pretty awful. The best ones were made outside of school where sound and interruptions could be controlled. However, since the rubric emphasized the arguments, kids without video cameras or transportation were not unfairly penalized.