What Video Has Taught Me – Part 1

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • May
  • 16
  • 2009

In the Support class, we slowly piece together videos on things students like about San Jose. Speech works diligently on documentaries. Some incredibly cool stuff has happened as a result of me leading these two different classes through this work. That’s had a big impact on how I work with my English 3 students, even though they aren’t in on the video action. I’ve learned a lot over these last few months and have been seriously wrestling with what it all means. I hope to make my silence worth the wait. You be the judge over the next few entries.


A while back, I had every student look into the camera and finish this sentence: One thing I like about San Jose is… I took all those clips, the shooting of which was managed by one of the students in the class, and put them together into a video that we watched one Tuesday. As you may already know, Tuesdays and Thursdays are note-taking days in Support. They noted who liked what. No big deal, a fairly straightforward thing, but worthwhile since several students didn’t get these notes correct and clearly need more practice at such things.

The way two students organized the class of twentyLater that week, students looked at these notes again and were faced with the following classroom task: arrange yourselves into groups according to what you like about San Jose. Much to my surprise, two students walked up to the board. They ran the whole show. I literally sat that one out. The rest of the class wasn’t paying much attention, but they did chime in from time to time. Eventually, the board was split in four, all students were placed into the proper area, and all areas were titled. And they did this with little to no prompting on my part. Sure, it was really only two of them that did it, but to some extent everyone in the room checked in a decided that they were correctly placed. A few even made suggestions for where to move names around.

I had to make a few changes to the listIt ended up that one of the quadrants had eleven names in it, so I broke it down further. Still, this was a very cool thing to witness. Sadly, we haven’t shot anything yet because the planning isn’t happening. Next week, we launch into it and let that failure to plan have its affect.


What video has taught me is how incredibly cool it is when you only intend to step out of the way for a little bit, but the students just don’t need you to finish what you started. Video has also taught me that jumping in is sometimes what’s called for. You gave all the directions, you tried your best, now let the students demonstrate what they did and did not understand. If my students don’t start shooting next week, regardless of progress made on their two-week-old storyboard, it’ll be too late. It may already be too late, in fact.

I’ll mete out other lessons over the next few weeks. On a different but related topic, next up I’ll detail the videos we watched in Speech and how I got them ready to tackle their own productions. The AFI stuff was just the beginning.

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