WeVideo is one of the core digital tools for staff and students in Jeffco this year. As a result, students and staff have access to a wide range of opportunities to engage in deeper learning activities that personalize and authenticate learning through film and multimedia. Getting started with WeVideo is fairly straight forward and there are plenty of resources such as the WeVideo MMTS to help you get started. (Click on the image below to open the MMTS and start exploring.) However, getting started with using film creation and WeVideo for authentic tasks can be a little more challenging. Here we hope to provide a few ideas and inspirations to help you get started.
Capturing and creating videos as part of instruction can seem daunting at first however, it's doesn't need to be a complicated process. One approach is to begin with photo stories. Challenging students to capture or collect photos that tell a specific story and compiling those photos together with a narrative or background music allows us to practice compiling stories and using video editing tools. Photo stories can be about academic content such as a historical time period, scientific or mathematical processes, or about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They can also be about personal things such as our daily journey to school or our family history. Everyone has different perspectives so our photo stories can be shared to deepen the learning and understandings.
One of the biggest challenges to using technology in classrooms is to ensure it is not a distraction from the larger goals of learning and content mastery. A great way to begin addressing these challenges is to empower students to lead their own learning. As students gain foundational understandings of content, they can be challenged with application of the content and creating products to share their learning and additional understandings. For example in mathematics, we often ask students to memorize key facts and processes but seldom challenge them with application and sharing of the learning. We can empower students to lead their learning by asking them to look for examples in their lives where they can apply the content they're learning and capture those applications to tell their stories. With this challenge, students gain deeper understandings of why content is needed and ways in which it fits into their worlds. Students can then share their creative stories of content application with each other, another class, or students at another school, which leads to deeper learning of the content.
One of the essential skills across many content areas involves the ability to effectively conduct research and compile our findings so we can form argumentative or persuasive claims. As humans, we regularly find ourselves in situations where multiple views are represented and the need to understand and respond respectfully to others is a foundational aspect of any democracy. As students conduct research and capture evidence that supports their claims, they can put together short films with photos or video clips to support their stance. When sharing with each other, students have access to practice listening and summarizing skills that lead can lead to civic and global engagement or the continued development of communication skills necessary to succeed in settings beyond the classroom.
Teachers are experts at creating links between outcomes and learning which drives us all to the continuous search for new ideas and strategies. Here are a few tips to consider as you begin to design learning opportunities involving film and multimedia:
Back in July, Teach Thought published a short piece on 6 Powerful Strategies for Deeper Learning in Your Classroom by Dr. Monica Martinez who is one of the leading experts on deeper learning. These 6 strategies are a great way to get students engaged in learning that involves their passions and interests. Film creation can be used in a variety of ways to implement and achieve all 6 strategies. As students are challenged to create films demonstrating their knowledge and understandings, they are provided additional opportunities to share their learning. Not every film needs to be publicly shared, there might be some short films that are simple reflections allowing us to go back and revisit some of the learnings we gained. Think of them more as selfie videos that are for the purpose of journaling or compiling a personal narrative. Ultimately, remembering the last strategy of "Making Technology the Servant, Not the Master" will help us leverage the power of film in more ways. As we use technology to capture and tell stories rather than consume them, we will be the masters of the digital tools we use and the time in front of a screen will have far greater purpose and outcomes.
Looking for more ideas on how to use film in your instruction? The WeVideo blog is a great place to find ideas and examples.
Make any Google Slide Presentation Interactive with Pear Deck
Pear Deck is an online tool that provides formative assessment in real time. It's web-based so it works on any device. Teachers are able to check for understanding in their classroom through a variety of question types. When teachers use Pear Deck they are able to adapt instruction based on student understanding and students can receive feedback in real time.
How Does Pear Deck Work?
Pear Deck is an Add-on that works with Google Slides so it is easy to use! We have automatically added it for you in Google Slides! To utilize Pear Deck, you can create a new Google Slides presentation or add Pear Deck to an existing presentation. Once you've opened the Pear Deck Add-on, you can create your own questions or use the Template Library.
Pear Deck Math Templates
Get Started with Pear Deck
Here are some great ways to start using Pear Deck in your classroom:
Formative Assessment with Pear Deck
Pear Deck is designed so that all students are engaged in the learning. Students answer questions in real time and teachers are able to give quick, immediate feedback to the students. Teachers can see who is answering and able to project student responses that are anonymous. Through the teacher dashboard, teachers can see each student's responses. Teachers can even add a question on the fly to help alleviate misconceptions or get additional information from the class. At the end of the session, teachers are able to publish student takeaways. These takeaways are sent to the students and the teachers.
Present With Pear Deck
After creating your slides or adding your questions, it's time to present. Make sure to use the green present with Pear Deck Button. When you Present with Pear Deck, your students will join your class with a code and your lesson can get underway. Pear Deck is a great tool to get students and staff engaged in their learning. Being a Google Add-on allows anyone to create a Pear Deck slide presentation. Contact your Ed Tech Specialist or your Digital Teach Librarian to get started using Pear Deck.
One of the Eight Core Tools Jeffco EdTech is supporting this year is Soundtrap, a robust yet simple-to-use audio recording and editing app for grades 3-5. This post will explore why podcasting is a great project to pursue with your students, regardless of content area, and how to get started with your first project! We’ll also check in with a couple teachers in Jeffco already using podcasting to great effect in their own classrooms.
Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the past few years. Everyone from media conglomerates to best-selling authors to stand up comedians to news outlets have found a new voice through podcasting. Interested in History? There are podcasts for that! True crime? News? Music? Trivia? There are podcasts for all that too! Simply put: a podcast is an audio file covering a given topic. More established podcasts are published on a regular schedule such as weekly, monthly, etc. But often, podcasts are created and published as a stand-alone/one-time event.
“What do I need in order to get started?” - Less than you think! Most podcasts can be made with only a quiet space and a Chromebook. A good-quality microphone and some headphones are nice additions, but not necessary.
“How many people do I need to create a podcast?” - It is absolutely possible to have students create individual podcasts, however, the workflow and format of a podcast lends itself to a small group as well. NPR has a great “Getting Started with Podcasts” page that describes some of the roles students may play in podcasting. Keep in mind you can combine these or assign more than one person to the same role, depending on your assignment or class format.
Helpful hint: Being mindful in how you assign students to roles (perhaps your producer is also your editor on a project) may save you some headaches around classroom management down the line! For instance, some roles might be busier during the beginning of the project. How can the editor be helpful during that point in the workflow? Can they assist in research?
“OK, what do we talk about?” - Anything that is genuine to your content area! In math class, it may revolve around how students solved a difficult problem. In Science, perhaps it’s a debrief of an experiment they recently completed. In English, maybe it’s an opportunity to practice storytelling or creating a skit.
NPR offers a variety of prompts for podcast topics that can work in different content areas…
But how does it connect to content?
ALL of the Jeffco Generations Skills can be grown and practiced with a student-created podcasting project!
Podcasting in action
There are a number of teachers in Jeffco already working with students to create podcasts about the world around them. Here are a couple teachers making podcasts work for their content!
Andrea Pless at Kyffin Elementary has successfully integrated podcasting into a few different standards-aligned projects over the past two years.
Her students practiced reading fluency by creating short podcasts for younger students at Kyffin, reading picture books and creating their own turn-the-page tone. Students in other classrooms can then read along with their own book at a later time. Talk about a 21st Century book buddy system!
A group project she’s used involves students reading short stories (before creating the podcast) and using the podcast to discuss their personal connections to the stories. She houses all these student achievements on her website, The Plessroom. On her website, you’ll also find notecatchers and rubrics she’s used with her students.
In addition, each year, Ms. Pless works with a small group of students to serve as her website and Soundtrap experts. They support other students in their learning and teach their classmates about the features and uses of Soundtrap.
When asked about her biggest piece of advice for teachers who are thinking about diving in, she says “Go for it!” She explains most students are more native to technology in some form or another and besides the Soundtrap Intro video (linked below) and some basics of where to find which capabilities, students are quick to latch on to the workings of Soundtrap, as long as they have a product they are working toward. Don’t worry that you need all the answers!
John Swartz at Moore Middle School regularly publishes a Podcast with his 6th graders. This podcast is entering its second year and discusses upcoming community events and features interviews with teachers, students and other community members from the Pomona articulation area.
Here's a link to the Pomona Area Podcast page! Happy listening!
There are countless resources available for teachers to get their students started. As Soundtrap is the supported audio recording app for Jeffco, here are a couple links to get you going!
Soundtrap Crash Course
Soundtrap Lesson Plans
Other websites and resources...
NPR’s A Guide for Students (Getting Started with Podcasting)
Lesson plan to create a podcast from Rosen Digital
Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Products