Following the overview,
each student selects an era of particular
interest and is grouped according to the
era/topic chosen (groups of three to four).
Activity #1 – Each group
is given a box of resources to provide
further background on the topic chosen.
A leader is designated for each group
to keep the resources intact and to help
each group member progress as required.
Students begin to read about their topic.
Activity #2 – After students
have read some background information,
they generate a list of sub-topics that
Activity #3 – Students meet
within their groups to compare their lists
of sub-topics and each student selects
a sub-topic to research in depth and to
create a scene around. Students read about
their particular sub-topic and refer group
members to information found relating
to their sub-topics.
Activity #4 – Students record
significant information in “jot
note” form. (Students have learned
this particular skill during previous
resource-based units). Students must accumulate
approximately 30 items of information
about their sub-topic.
Activity #5 – As students
near the end of their research, we teach
them how to develop and write a script
for a video. Students study sample scripts
from previous student videos and compare
these to the actual video vignettes. They
practice writing video scripts for familiar
folktales (e.g., <em>Three Little
Pigs</em>). Students learn and use
proper video terminology.
Activity #6 – Using the
criteria of appropriateness, feasibility
and significance, students identify a
particular fact or event from their job
notes that will make an interesting and
dramatic scene. They discuss their choices
with their group members and teachers.
Each student writes a script that includes
important information, dramatic action,
interesting and explanatory dialogue,
involves all three group members and lasts
no longer than a minute.
Activity #7 – Students write
narration to introduce or conclude their
scenes and gather pictures, maps, etc.
to illustrate their narrations, designating
when each is to be used. Students locate
sound effects (tapes, CDs) and music to
enhance their dramatic scenes and/or narrations.
Activity #8 – Students memorize
dialogue for each scene and rehearse with
group members. With the teachers, they
gather props and costumes and locate appropriate
settings for their scenes.
Activity #9 – Teachers need
to make arrangements with parents and
various sites to take the students for
videotaping. Students go on location in
their groups, in costume, to dramatize
their scenes and be videotaped. (We use
a basic camcorder and an external microphone
attached to a lengthy cable and transformer.
Other possibilities may be to have a local
cable channel or video or film students
from a high school or college do the actual
filming). Other tips include:
- use a tripod for stability;
- charge your battery beforehand, and
take an extra one if possible;
- place the microphone as close as
possible to the students mouths, camouflaging
it in clothing, props, etcetera –
poor sound is the worst problem that
we have encountered;
- use a small chalkboard to designate
scene titles and take numbers (e.g.,
Voyageurs – Take 6)
- don’t rewind after mistakes,
just continue on;
- allow lots of lead in and lead out
time to aid editing;
- cue students with a hand signal;
- TAKE A VIDEOTAPE!!!
Activity #10 – Students
practice reading their narrations fluently
and expressively and then record their
narrations on audiotape. (A sound booth
provides better sound quality if this
Activity #11 – Students
view their takes and select their best
ones. We then edit the videos combining
dramatic episodes and narrations and adding
sound effects and music as well as titles
using Avid MCX press software. (If editing
is not possible, plan your film in proper
sequence and rehearse to perfection prior
Activity #12 – We conclude
our unit with a “World Premiere”
where the student video is shown on a
large screen for the students’ families
and other guests and we celebrate with
a large cake and autographs. Student’s
work is displayed and they are able to
order copies of the video for a nominal
cost. The students are very excited about
the final product, and their parents are
always extremely proud of their children’s
efforts and accomplishments.