Friday, June 24, 2011

Civil War Newscasts: Part III

So I finally have some time to finish this three part post on a major collaborative project that my classes did over the Civil War at then end of the school year.  If you haven't had a chance please check out my first two posts here and here. 

Immediately after filming was completed, students began the arduous task of editing their work.  I knew this would be time consuming so the students had three days in class as well as the weekend to finish editing their newscasts.

The students had an option on what type of editing software they could use. 

The first choice was an online editing service called Jaycut.  This was the option for those students that either didn't have a Mac or weren't proficient with Windows Movie Maker.  Jaycut, in theory, is a great idea.  Everything is saved in the cloud.  In reality, it took a lot of time for videos to upload.  Part of the issue was probably the school server, so I'd suggest that students use Jaycut from home.

Another editing choice was Windows Movie Maker.  I like this software, but it was not an easy fit with some of the flip cameras (see previous post) that we used.  Files had to be converted which can be a lengthy process as well. Here is a video tutorial:

Options three and four were two bits of editing software using the Mac:  Final Cut (more expensive) and iMovie.  Both of these worked the best for classroom use, and they did not have the issues of Jaycut and Movie Maker.  Of course, the drawback is that we do not have a Mac lab at school.  However, we were very fortunate that our principal allowed students to bring their Macs to class. 

The final part of the project was to have the students present their newscast.  Most students brought the video in on a flash drive or sent it via email if they were using Jaycut.  We watched these in chronological order, and I graded them using the checklist on the teacher instruction sheet.

All in all, this was a great cumulative project to end the year.  It incorporated a project based atmosphere, dug deeper into content, and allowed for students to become active learners.

 If you enjoyed this post please consider joining my Twitter PLN @HistoryandTech. As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.
Continue to enjoy your summer,


Friday, June 10, 2011

Civil War Newscasts: Part II

As you start planning for next year (I know, I know, summer just started), I recently posted a big collaborative project that included a lot of technology as well.  You can find the first post here as a guest post on @techforschools blog titled Tech Tool's for Schools.  Now the second part of the project: 

After scripts have been finalized it will be time for the students to begin the process of filming.  There are many things to consider before this even takes place:
     1) What parts of the school are off limits?
     2) Will you have a specific pass for the students to take with them?
     3) What type of cameras will you be filming with?
     4) Will you allow students to bring their own cameras?

We quickly established filming norms, including a hall pass, off limit areas, and signing in and out for the cameras.  The next step was to actually issue the cameras.  The students actually had three options.  Option one was the RCA Small Wonder. 

This camera works well with Windows Movie Maker.  The drawbacks are that the batteries are not rechargeable and you'll find yourself changing them out a couple of times per day.

Option two was the Kodak ZI8.

This camera worked well with most editing software (except Movie Maker).  It also had rechargeable batteries so it was less of a hassle during the school day.

The third option was to allow students to bring their own cameras.  They were required to sign a waver, but many groups went this route and it worked out well as they could film at home if needed.

The entire filming process lasted around 3-4 days depending on the group.  I timed it so there was also a weekend between filming days so the students could film from home with the extra time.  While the students were out and about, so was I.  The were aware that I could be anywhere which curbed any behavior problems.  I also emailed the rest of the faculty and asked for the names of any students that were caught misbehaving.  Finally, the students were given a participation grade during the days of filming.  All in all, the students stayed busy and engaged.

Look for the final post of the project soon...the dreaded and feared EDITING PROCESS.  If you enjoyed this post please consider joining my Twitter PLN @HistoryandTech.  As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.

Take care,