Making Movies in the Classroom


There are so many ways to use video in the classroom! It’s easier than ever to make video recordings and to share them, so much so that video can now be part of your standard repertoire for assessment and instruction.

  • film student projects
  • correspond with video pen pals
  • write scripts for movies
  • develop storyboards
  • film music and dance performances
  • film oral presentations and debates
  • film classroom discussions for later analysis
  • film events to share with family and community
  • practice interviews
  • role play and record new skills for critique
  • create news reports for class and school events

It’s very easy to do nowadays, too. We mostly use the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 and the Flip UltraHD Video Camera, but you can use the camera on your phone or the video function of your regular camera. Test your options, we’d say. We were surprised to find that Rosamond’s iPhone did a better job of video recording than our Nikon Coolpix S230. We were surprised, too, to find how useful the webcam is. We like it for interviews, video letters, and pretty much anything that you can realistically film with a laptop. We need a tripod to get equally good results with our handheld cameras, and the sound is good, too.

If picture quality matters to you, though, go with a Flip UltraHD Video Camera. We learned that these cameras were used on Numb3rs, one of our favorite TV shows, so when it was time for us to upgrade, that’s what we went with. The Flip cam is being phased out, now, so we’re also using the Sony Bloggie Touch, and we get good results with it.

Once you have your footage, you really must edit it. This is the difference between an interesting video your class can be proud of and a boring video they’ll never want to watch again.

Here are the video editing software packages we’ve used:

  • Windows Movie Maker This came with Rebecca’s PC, and it’s very easy to use. You import things from your camera or your computer, click and drag to put the items in order in the timeline, and hit “produce.” You can add titles, transitions, and soundtracks. Production options include adding your masterpiece to a DVD, saving it on your computer, or emailing it. The trade off for easy is of course powerful. If you have a special idea in mind, you probably can’t do it. If you’re open to using the pre-set options, though, this is a cheap and easy way to make classroom movies.

Movie Maker

  • iMovie This program came free with Rosamond’s Mac, but she recently upgraded to a newer version in iLife ’11 and feels that it offers a lot more control than Movie Maker, or the earlier version of iMovie. It’s very easy to use, and has a lot of stylish options. It’ll clean up shaky camera work and it edits more easily and powerfully than the others we’ve tried. This is the program we now use to edit the videos we post here at FreshPlans.

  • Corel Digital Studio 2010 I like this one a lot. It’s inexpensive (under $30), easy, and automatically uploads your movie to YouTube. It works just about the same way that the others do — you import your pictures or videos, pull them into the tray, and then click one button to create your movie. You can adjust the transitions, add titles, put in a soundtrack, and create a voice over, too. I’m not very talented and just want something simple to use, so this is my favorite.

Corel Digital Studio

  • Roxio Creator 2010 This one does some things that Digital Studio won’t do. It’s still fairly inexpensive. It doesn’t do voice-overs, but it will create CDs and do much fancier sound editing. I also like the fact that you can set the length of the shots. Roxio will copy media, make labels, and add some flashy effects, too.

Roxio Creator

So pick your editing software and take out the boring, repetitive parts of the recording. Add an introduction and some titles to help viewers understand what’s going on. Save your movies in AVI or MPG format. Upload them at Google Docs or at YouTube on the “private” setting so you can share them with your school without spreading them all over the internet — or make them public and enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame.


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