04 March 2011

crash course video for 7th graders

It was the morning of a mini video unit for the 7th grade tech class, and I hadn't prepared anything. We only had 2-3 days to make a movie of some sort, and I was trying to figure out an easy project that's still fun and worthwhile to do. I didn't want students to have to do any editing, and I didn't want them to have any speaking parts. The camera audio is bad, bad acting shows through speaking, and this meant they wouldn't have to be making any noise while filming.

So I made four (4) lists: characters, emotions, storylines, and musics. Student groups would be given a random character and emotion, they could choose which storyline to use, and the music would be picked at random when it was time to show them. Here are the lists:

Characters - little slips of paper drawn from a bag
  • new student
  • teacher
  • slacker
  • nerd
 Emotions - little slips of paper drawn from a bag
  • happy
  • sad
  • nervous/scared
  • excited
Storylines - list written on board; students must use at least one, but can use more
  • late
  • first day
  • dream
  • lost
Music - picked at random while watching each video
  • electronic/intense
  • funky old school
  • classical
  • folk
So the progression went like this: I introduced the assignment and briefly explained how it would work. Students already had their groups, and they each sent one person to the front to draw assignments. The groups then had to come up with a short story and most importantly a shot list - an explanation of each shot to be used, in order. Once they showed me their shot list, I handed them a camera, and let them go. My room is next to the cafeteria so I let them film there, so long as there was no yelling. I wish I had longer periods, so we could watch the videos the same day. It's easy to just plug the camera into the projector, push play, and play music from my computer. And, naturally, we'd finish with a discussion about how we can communicate ideas without words, what worked well, what didn't work, how the music affected it, how the music therefore can affect their own moods, etc.

The random character/emotion assignments forced students to be more creative. The story options allowed students to feel like they had freedom. I tried to make them think about the audience - what they would understand and what they wouldn't just from the performances and camera angles. The music is a fun way to show how much of an impact music has on video. When time allowed, I'd even watch the same movie with different music, to show it even more. Enjoy.

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