Using Video to Enhance Student Writing


As I enter my 21st year of teaching at Thurston High School in the South Redford School District, I have seen the change in how my students learn. Students in 2016 are no longer the same passive consumers of information that they were in the mid 1990s. Instead, they have transformed into creators of information they disseminate through blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos and more. In fact, hundreds of hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. The transformation from consuming to producing created a need for me to change my teaching style in order to encourage student engagement.

I made the decision long ago that social media, apps and YouTube will not be an enemy in my classroom. Instead, I encourage them as a tool for learning and actually use many of these tools for digital writing activities in my classroom. falseThe Virtual Conference on Digital Writing takes place on Sundays throughout October and offer many high quality presentations by teachers who use digital writing in their classroom. Click on this link for more information on the conference. You can sign up here. It is my hope that I can share some high engagement digital writing activities with you during my 4TDW session on Sunday, October 2, 2016 from 4:30 – 5:30 EST.

YouTube provides a forum for students to both create and publish videos for an authentic audience of their peers. It also provides an opportunity for students to write constructive responses in the comments section of each YouTube video post. Through this forum, students can have written conversations with people around the world on various topics including film analysis, and discussions about historical events that have been recorded. In my Media and Digital Literacy class, students watch and analyze commercials on YouTube that I choose for them. As part of the analysis activity, students write a thorough deconstruction of the advertisement they watched discussing features like storyline, target audience, etc.

The second part of my webinar will discuss and demonstrate a free tool called, “Voki” to engage students in various digital writing activities. In my class, students range in ability from non-verbal students who receive special education services to advanced placement students with strong verbal and writing skills.

Incorporating Voki as a teaching tool, allows students of all abilities to have a “voice” for the assignment. Because Voki provides the option for students to deliver their message through writing or through speaking, it levels the playing field for all students.

My Media and Digital Literacy classes spend a great deal of time analyzing elements of broadcast television as part of a larger news production unit. A highlight of the unit is to use Voki to create a political campaign advertisement. With the upcoming 2016 elections, students analyzed the frontrunners for the Republican and Democratic parties and then created their own political advertisement that would “air” on an upcoming local news broadcast.

For this assignment, students needed to create a professional looking avatar and write a 30-90 second political ad which demonstrated their knowledge of various campaign issues, and required a written script for the voki avatar to read aloud.

We’ll look at this assignment as well as the other affordances of the Voki tool and how it can enhance digital writing opportunities in your classroom. I’m looking forward to seeing you in my webinar on Sunday, October 2 at 4:30 p.m. EST.