Every time I assign a major video project early in the year, I get a mixed bag of results. While my aim is always for students to produce professional-grade videos, I realize that the amount of core knowledge and feedback required to get there would burn out any student in one project. It takes a number of projects to get videos to the professional level.
To get us rolling, here's a quick description of two types of student video products I generally see at the start of the year:
Some videos are the complete package. They make complete sense. They have a compelling opener with epic drone footage or a slow motion clip to capture the viewer's eye. As soon as the beat of the song changes, so does the pace of the cuts between clips. The climax of the song aligns with the climax of the footage. High energy audio is paired with high energy video. Finally, the video has an obvious conclusion. The song slows down, something in the dialogue wraps it up, and we feel complete.
Some videos don't make complete sense. They have an opening, which includes some compelling clips, but when the beat drops, the video cuts don't align. Clips are varied in length and don't really have a rhyme or reason with the pacing of the song. Some of the clips seem a little too long; some are poorly lit or shaky. They usually have a couple powerful moments where a piece of dialogue aligns perfectly with the clips they chose. We see glimpses of a great video: the beat hits right when the bat hits the ball, the climax of the song hits right when students are in the heat of an epic water balloon fight. Finally, the video ends with you feeling like "that was it?" The story never really wrapped up. We started and chugged along for a minute, but we didn't really find the right conclusion.
As I assess both of these types of final products, I see key knowledge, understanding, and success skills at work in each student.
Success Skills: Here are ten self-assessments/examples of critical thinking that advanced editors think that beginners don't:
1. That clip is grainy b/c the ISO was too high, I can't use it.
2. That clip was shaky, can't use it.
3. This clip is framed up really well. I'll try to find a place for it.
4. This song doesn't ebb and flow; it's a constant loop that doesn't tell a story... Need to find a track that changes often and climaxes so that my viewers don't get bored.
5. This piece of dialogue would make a great introduction.
6. Wow, I could see this drone clip as great way to visually conclude my video.
7. The climax of the song is at 1:30. I need to save my best clip(s) for that part of the video.
8. My video doesn't end well. I need a piece of dialogue that will wrap this up, or I need to figure out how to edit the song to make it close out smoothly.
9. The song picks up at 0:45. I need to make my cuts shorter and increase the number of clips I use to match the pace of the song.
10. That audio sounds like a blown out speaker. I need to re-shoot, can't settle for anything less.
If I spent more time thinking about this, I could easily add another 100 items.
So what do we do as parents/teachers when our kids/students show varying levels of work?
Teachers: Meet students where they're at and help them learn how to self-assess where they're at. Make it part of your class culture and you'll start seeing growth before you know it. My favorite ways to do this are using rubrics and protocols. For each major video project, students go through a round of self-assessment, peer assessment, and expert assessment using a rubric as a guide. Most of the time, the students help me make the rubric. Early on, we identify that key knowledge and understanding that they later use to help critique their work.
The other strategies that I use to build student assessment skills are through the Charrette Protocol, the Tuning Protocol, and the Gallery Walk.
The more students get used to doing these types of activities, the better they become at judging their own work. As a result, their final products will get better and they'll feel more in control of their learning and growth.