We set a “rough cut” deadline for the project — just like with their essays, students were expected to have a complete draft at the beginning of class, and then gave each other feedback at the beginning, with time to add and revise at the end. Some students produced works that were closely inspired by what we had watched in class, including one whiteboard drawing video about the influence of technology on daily modern life:
Another video borrowed YouTube’s headline-style commentary and toe-tapping soundtrack — only this time the topic was government regulation of video games:
Considering the strength of these works, I regret not showing more videos in class, to give kids even more ideas to play with–or, alternately, set up a dedicated browsing activity. Never mind that YouTube is blocked in my school district. It was fascinating to see what images, sounds, and organization methods students selected. As the subjective teacher, I would say there was a loose-but-noticable correlation between good writers and capable video producers. A student who had written a crystal-clear essay analyzing the pentatonic scale produced a similarly well-organized video:
One challenge during grading, however, was separating my personal aesthetic taste from my assessment of the overall quality of the product. Did it convey the thesis clearly, with logical support? When considering that question while reading essays, I expect a pretty traditional, college-level writing style. But the whole point of this assignment was to broaden our methods, and the samples I showed were pretty pop-minded. In the video below, I didn’t love the look of it — but by the stated criteria it was very successful:
And besides, I was only one viewer of many, since these were posted to our public blog and the whole class had time to watch.