Student Created Introduction Videos

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SWBAT use video editing software to make an introduction video about themselves.

Big Idea

Movie making is a great communication tool that is useful for chemistry.

Why this lesson?

As part of addressing Common Core State Standards for Science and Technology classes, as well as creating effective communicators, I assign multiple video creation assignments throughout the school year.  In order for students to be able to complete those assignments, they need to have some basic video making skills.  The beginning of the year is also a time when we are getting to know each other.  I use this activity for two primary reasons:

    1. To prepare students for future assignments where they are required to create videos of chemistry related topics, and
    2. To provide a way for us to get to know each other.

Many students may have video-making experience, particularly simply filming videos on their cell phones and sharing via youtube.  Most of my students have not.  Even those who have made videos before may not have experience navigating the privacy settings on youtube or using editing software for their videos.  Before I expect students to complete more complex videos (i.e. a stop animation video using models showing the rearranging of atoms during a chemical reaction), students need the opportunity to be comfortable with the video-making process.

I also use the “introduction” topic because I do not want the content level to be a barrier for students at this time.  My goal is for them to focus on the actual process of making, editing, and uploading a movie file from start to finish.  The topic content should be easy and familiar.  I know that my students are all experts on themselves!

Specifically, this lesson addresses Science and Engineering Practice 8 - Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information.  Students are gathering information that they want to share with their classmates and myself about themselves as part of their assignment.  They are organizing it in a thoughtful way to communicate what they feel is most important to share.  While the information itself is typically not science-content, making the video is building the communication and technology skills students will need to address much higher level chemistry content later in the semester.

Introduction of the Topic

7 minutes

To begin, I show my students an introduction video I created about myself (see embedded video below).  I have an LCD projector and speakers that I can connect to my laptop computer so that the entire class can view at once. 

I specifically do NOT include a lot of “bells and whistles” because I want students to understand that my expectations for this first video assignment are within their capabilities, however, I do make sure to include all of the components I am requiring of them:

  1. Between 1 and 3 minutes in length
  2. Audio narration and/or video recording of themselves speaking
  3. School appropriate content that allows us to get to know them better

I specifically use both video camera recording (using my webcam) as well as a photo slide show with narration voiced over so that students can see both approaches.  

This is what a sample video might look like (I removed information about my family and photos that include students to protect their privacy.):


Video Making Tutorial

25 minutes

I use Windows Movie Maker because I have a PC, but an equivalent (and some may argue, better) version of video editing software is available on Macs (iMovie).  If you have students with specific technology available to them (such as school-issued iPads or Chromebooks), I would recommend seeing what software they might have pre-loaded and available for student use.

Because the laptops that are available for my students in my classroom are PCs that have Windows Movie Maker already installed, I do take the time to go over how to use the program by opening my introduction movie project file.  The project file is different from the final movie file, and it is important that students know the difference, particularly if they are turning in their work electronically.  

A side note regarding computers:  I am fortunate to have 10 working laptops that reside in my classroom for students to use.  During this class period, students have limited time to actually create a video, so having only 10 for a class of 43 is not a problem today.  If I wanted to give students class time for working on this (which I do not), I might have booked time at the school computer lab.  If students do not have access to technology at home, they can use my class laptops at any time during nutrition or lunch and afterschool by appointment.  Future video making assignments that involve chemistry content are completed in small groups, for which 10 laptops are sufficient.

I also show students two additional Youtube video tutorials (and provide them links accessible on our online grading program, engrade) on using Windows Movie Maker (PCs) and iMovie (for Macs).



Youtube Hosting

5 minutes

Once students have completed their videos, I expect them to upload the videos to Youtube and share the location link with me via email.  In the past, I would have students send the entire video file as an attachment, but many videos would end up too large to send as an attachment.  Many of my students are unfamiliar with Dropbox (another way to share large files), but all have used Youtube, even if only to view videos.  In order to streamline the submission process, I require my students to upload their completed movie file to Youtube and share the link with me via email.

I have some students who are pros at using Youtube, but most of my students have only viewed Youtube videos and never uploaded their own.  I model how to upload a video using my own Youtube account so that students can see how simple it is.  Because my students are minors and I want to protect their privacy, I also show them how to change the privacy settings to “unlisted” so that only someone with the actual video link can see their videos.  This removes their videos from any potential web engine searches as well as Youtube’s own video index viewable by the public.

Student Work Time/Individual Help

20 minutes

First, I pass out the Introduction Video Planning Sheet.  This handout is meant to be printed and cut in half.  As it specifically says at the top, it is NOT meant to limit students in what they can include or that all of the suggested information is required.  The intention is to help those students who are struggling with finding information to share by asking specific questions about themselves.

At this point in the lesson, some students will be eager to dive in to the planning and production of their individual videos.  Others will want more instruction in how to actually use the software.  In order to accommodate the varying levels of my students, at this point I allow those students who are ready to begin working to move to one half of the room.  The remaining students will sit on the other half of the room where I will work with them, answering their questions and addressing their concerns.  Some students will want technical guidance while others just want creative direction about what to include in their videos.

This is all the class time that I provide my students to work on their introduction videos.  The point is for students to be proactive in determining what technology they have available to them individually, and asking me for help if they do not have access to what they need.  It is imperative that students know before they have major projects ahead what does and does not work for them in developing a video.  Students have one full week from the assigned date to work on the movie outside of class.  As this is assigned during the first week of school, there is minimal chemistry related homework that I would be assigning, so they have a fair amount of time to complete the assignment.

Once videos are done, students are directed to email me a link to their YouTube video upload.  If time permits, we do watch the class videos in class.  Depending on our schedule, we might only watch a couple at the end of a class period, or if there is a shortened day schedule for Professional Development (which this year, there was), we can spend the entire period watching them.  Very shy students who do not want their videos shown typically indicate ahead of time to me (with no prompting) to please not show their video, and I respect their wishes explaining that chemistry related group videos go public.