Sunday, April 14, 2013

Publishing for an Authentic Audience - Twitter & the World!

This semester my Technology class had the opportunity to work with the California Emergency Management Agency's (CalEMA) Crisis Communications and Public Affairs Department to create emergency preparedness videos. We were lucky to have their media specialist, Brad Alexander, come out and do a presentation on the importance of emergency preparedness and what CalEMA does in emergencies. Brad also worked with my students on how to shoot their videos with their audience in mind and to focus their ideas and their shots. He worked with each group to fine tune their ideas and encouraged them to be creative in their approach. His invaluable mentoring was inspiring and the students were so excited to get started on making their preparedness videos knowing their finished product would be posted on the CalEMA website for the public to view. The students self-selected their groups and emergency preparedness ideas: earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, or fires. The students knew their audience was all Californians of any age and their goal was to teach the importance of being prepared for an emergency.

As the students began their planning, I asked NCS freshmen, Alex Greenlee, to come in to work with my students on planning their shots. My students were familiar with Alex’s brilliant filmmaking already and were so excited to have his help. Alex patiently worked with each group and helped them fine tune their ideas and gave them great advice on how to achieve their goals through effective shots. At any other school this type of mentoring would be impossible, but Alex’s teachers were happy to allow him out of class to mentor my students. His assistance was beneficial to my students but also to him. He is a great teacher and gave my students advice that I could not give.

With the pre-planning done, the scriptwriting began. The students all automatically used Google Docs to collaborate on their “screenplay” for their video. They carefully planned out their shots and what they would say as well as their voiceovers. They worked on this outside of class as well so they could begin filming. Most filming was done outside of class after school and on the weekends and the students all used their own devices. Editing was all done on our classroom computers. Many students came in before school and at lunch to record their voiceovers for their movies. Once the videos were done and uploaded to, all classes viewed them and scored them on a Google form. After viewing them, a few groups re-did some of their scenes to make them more audible. We submitted our videos to Brad at CalEMA for their review.

This past week during my 3rd period class I received a tweet from CalEMA about one of the videos:

This tweet was about a fire preparedness video that two of my 3rd period students had made. These two students happened to be very quiet and shy and so I quietly went over with the tweet open on my phone and shared it with each of them. Their smiles were ear to ear and they were glowing! These two had gone to the trouble of re-working their audio after viewing their video in class and realized it needed to be clearer. They never complained or asked for extra time or help. So when they saw that their video was being tweeted about, they knew their hard work had paid off. Thousands of people will see their video because of this tweet! I was thrilled for them since I knew their creative fire preparedness movie would help everyone.

As a teacher, I always enjoy watching my students create engaging videos whatever the educational content. This year, the part that motivated my students even more was having an authentic audience to publish their videos to. Our emergency preparedness video project was a good example of real world learning, mentoring, collaboration, problem solving and creating media for a wider audience. Thanks to everyone involved, it was a huge success! You can view the videos here:
Enjoy and always be prepared!

Jeanne Feeney

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