Video. 21st century students are multimedia children. They are plugged in from video on their phones to their computers to their high-definition televisions to the video screens in elevators, parking lots and train stations. Let’s engage them with language they understand (or at least are interested in).
Video projects can be powerful for exploring any topic. Video can be studied from an art perspective, or it can be a tool for investigating another curricular topic. A mini-film on gravity, a documentary on local historical figures, a modern-day rewrite of Shakespeare.
Students can be involved with video production in many ways: storyboarding, script-writing, shooting, directing, editing, casting, acting, producing, music composing, editing and more.
The good people at the San Mateo County Office of Education have put together a Video Guide that covers much of what you need to create video projects. One of the most important part of these projects is giving sufficient time for the students to work on them. This is not the last half hour of class on Friday. This may be a month-long, semester-long, or year-long project. Students must be given enough time to create a work that feels like real work, and not just a digital posterboard.
The skills that can be learned are invaluable—team work, leadership, digital tools, communication of ideas and concepts, creating timelines, revision of work—all of this happens while studying an important part of your classroom curriculum. Students have to become masters of the content in order to prepare a video that is compelling. If the topic is Shakespeare, then all along the process the class could be breaking down and examining Shakespearian work, methods, metaphors, etc.
With the advent of free tools like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker, there is just no reason to wait. Let your students run with it. Technically you just need a camcorder and a computer. As always, the real power is in the curricular integration.