The History of _______ in 60 (ish) Seconds

Last weekend, in an attempt to demonstrate a creative process for my students, I made something. In my classes this year, I have been using the LAUNCH cycle, as described in John Spencer and AJ Juliani’s recent book (yes, I know I have been mentioning that book a lot, but what can I say? It is great stuff!).final version alternate

The idea here, if you haven’t read the book, or any of my earlier posts about it, is that by providing students with the opportunity to launch their work to an audience greater than the classroom, you are helping strengthen their learning. So my plan has been to have students use several different digital platforms to launch their work to a global audience.

On of those platforms is YouTube. I think it is probably the one students know the best, and making videos probably sounds more exciting to them than writing blogs or recording podcasts (interesting: since I think the coolest option is podcasts, while my students barely even know podcasts exist). Anyway, I had a bit of a windfall in the way of an extra budget left over from the teacher I am replacing. I chose to spend the bulk of that money on some professional quality microphones and tripod equipment. Last week, I got all the items I ordered, and I am excited to see what the students come up with.

There was only one thing left to do: try it out myself. After all, you shouldn’t ask students to do anything you haven’t tried first.

At the same time, I was looking for short videos I could use to introduce new historical topics quickly. There is a painful lack of content out there along these lines. So, I decided to combine my two needs into one: Test my new equipment by making one of these short history tutorials.

And thus, “The History of North American Colonization in 60(ish) Seconds” was born.

I wrote a script, practiced a few times, and set up a little “set” at my kitchen table. And then the arduous task of filming myself talking began. It took 31 takes to deliver the lines more or less how I wanted them, and even now there are things I wish I had done differently. My biggest problem is I am using iMovie to edit this footage, but I am using a separate source of audio. Though I did find a way to make this work, it is not very user friendly. It would have been much harder to do with different takes on the camera. For this reason, I had to deliver the whole 60 second spiel in one go, with no mistakes. Boy was that a challenge.

I will admit, there were times I was about ready to hurl the camera through the nearest window and be done with it. Fortunately, I resisted that urge and kept at it. After a few hours of editing, here is the final result:

There are many things I would like to improve in my creative process here, but I quite like the result. I think I may make more. Stay tuned for “The History of ________ in 60(ish) Seconds” next week.

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