Nuclear Idol

Over the years we have done quite a few projects where the final product is a video of some sort. We usually end up a bit disappointed by the quality of student work compared to the time given/spent working on them. Students either have great content in a very boring video or a great concept that lacks execution. For example I had some great women’s rights videos in concept last year but one had terrible audio and the other had numerous spelling errors. But by the time we saw them it was presentation day and too late to fix them.

So as we got ready to have students make PSA’s (public service announcements) to answer our grade-wide driving question of “How does nuclear technology affect POWER?” we brainstormed ways to get students to produce higher quality.

My co-teacher Andy Holly came up with a great idea. We would give them a short time limit before the videos were “due.” (How many teachers know that the more time that you give students the more time they need without actually improving their work?) So we gave them three full days in all of their core classes to come up with a concept, storyboard, film, and edit their PSA. The short time limit kept students from wasting time. On the fourth day we watched them together as a class with a twist.

We had an emcee and three judges behind a table, American Idol style. One judge was Andy, another was an upper class men, and the last an instructional technology coach. The “judges” ripped on the videos and critiqued them in good natured fun. Things that happened were judges falling asleep, playing tic tac toe, and a game of Frisbee broke out during an especially boring one. The judges also gave out serious critiques and suggestions to either make them more interesting or higher quality. The best part about this is that the judges were able to be hyper critical of the videos but not offend the students either.

The final twist came at the end when we announced that these videos were their rough drafts and they had two days to go and re-shoot and fix their videos. The students immediately and excitedly started planning all the ways they wanted to fix them. It was a fun day and the best part was seeing the excitement students’ had toward making their final products better!

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