I have taught for a while and have yearned for a time when students can represent their ideas on video that doesn’t suck up weeks of unproductive time when other parts of a learning program can be undertaken. I spent a lot of time with cameras shared around large groups. That was before the advent of the Flip Camera.
The Flip Camera – though it is being phased out in its Cisco version – is a fantastic tool for English teachers simply because it’s easy to film with, easy to upload to a computer and is relatively cheap. Another vital part of the tool is that schools own the cameras and hence prevent issues with student owned phones. It is important, though, to make the point to students that any footage filmed cannot be uploaded to Facebook, Youtube, etc. When you have done that, you are ready for 1-1-1, once you have a set of 7 flip cameras. That allows for groups between 4 and 6 to be formed.
The First Lesson. This is to be spent planning the video and playing with the cameras, working on the principle that facial expressions and body language / movement is more important that voice – mainly because the flip cameras don’t have great sound recording. It does also put the presentations into the realm of the non-verbal, which is a good outcome. It is important to restrict the planning to that 1 lesson, because they can make up ideas and think of ways of practically enabling their ideas to be filmed – with sketches and short phrases to repeat, rather than detailed plans that can’t be filmed.
The Second Lesson. This is the filming lesson. It is best to find a spot in a school that has a number of spaces for filming, so you can supervise, but also allowing them to find a good space. For Romeo and Juliet, near a balcony is a good idea. This is a busy lesson, working with groups on approaches to filming, encouraging them to do multiple takes and film from different angles, in order to give them enough material to edit from. It is important, though, to not micromanage their filming process – this is a chance to find the best way to experiment. Simple ideas like holding the flip above their heads can give students ideas about angles.
The Third Lesson. Editing. This is where students can have their discussions of the most important parts of the footage and how to place it. In addition, students could insert music into their movies, giving it a more cinematic touch. This is also intensive, but enabling the projects, not telling them what to insert. It is important to keep this at one lesson – because it is easy to let this process take too long. That is because Lesson 4 is time for viewing, evaluating and reflecting.
1-1-1 Start it in Year 7 so they can continue to build on their skills each time they do it, making it easier to embed the lessons into programs, without video becoming a time vampire.