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Production: Student Productions

“YouTube is much more than a place to go and see viral videos. Although kids have fun simply watching YouTube, many choose to make their own videos. In so doing, they develop new media literacies that kids and scholars believe will help them communicate and participate more fully in an increasingly networked world. New digital communication media invite us to reconsider the skills, knowledge sets, and tools that future generations need to master to be abel to participate fully as networked citizens and self-actualized individuals.” (Lange, 2014)

Audio and video production is common across library types. While some students will use the media production facilities at their academic or school libraries, others will head to the public library. Keep in mind that while some students can afford their own recording devices, many students will need the resources of the library to assist with their projects.

Our world is filled with motion pictures. Learners find video an engaging tool for communicating ideas.

Read Video and the Web Part 1: More the Flickers on the Screen and Video and the Web Part 2: Sharing and Social Networking by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson

try itTry It!
Watch the video titled Sweet Primary Sources. It's produced by a group of high school students to talk about the use of primary sources.

Explore my online workshop titled Video Ventures for video projectsvideo production, and video resources. Think of ways you could adapt these online materials.

Think about the value of audio and video production in teaching and learning

Academic Libraries & Student Productions

Many examples can be found of university faculty directing students to create videos as class activities. A study published in The Journal of Academic Librarianship found that some university faculty require video production in their information literacy instruction.

“Although most of the teachers focused on students learning information skills, such as developing keywords for searching or finding library materials, the teacher of an introductory technology design course described teaching students to use information technology. This teacher developed activities to teach students to create and post videos to communicate information to others and taught them to use a learning management system in order to engage with information.” (Maybee, 2016, 3)

Denda, Kayo (April 2015). Developing interview skills and visual literacy: a new models of engagement for academic libraries. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 15(2), 299-314. Available through IUPUI.

When designing instructional activities that involve digital media, it's important to provide students with specific guidelines and ideas. The Instructor's Guide to Media Activities from Penn State provides faculty with suggestions for building these types of assignments.

Read Instructor's Guide to Media Activities from Penn State.

School Libraries and Student Productions

In many middle schools and high schools, a video production class part of the curriculum.

Go to Carroll High School TV Department and watch their introductory video. Think about how the school library could coordinate a video production class. Check out some other schools with schoolwide programs including Laguna Hills High School.

Read Hudson, Hannah (2013). 10 video projects every teachers should try. WeAreTeachers

In some cases, school libraries maintain their own YouTube channels. At some schools such as Springdale Public Schools, videos are contributed to the school's channel. Check out lots of Popular Librarian & School library videos.

Explore some lesson and project ideas.

Student Projects: Podcasts

Student Projects: Video

School Library Productions: Practice

There are many uses for video production in the classroom. Students love to develop informational, instructional, and persuasive videos. With careful planning, video production can be lots of fun. Plan projects where you and your students can work together to plan and produce videos. For maximum enjoyment and benefit, emphasize fun and effective communications rather than "perfection".

Before students create a serious video based on a subject area of interest, allow students to explore the video medium through a series of warm-up activities.

Explore the following suggested activities.

Far And Near

Set the camera at a wide angle focal length and place it on a table or tripod. The camera should be connected to a TV so students can watch the screen as they do this activity. Ask a student to fill the screen with his face by moving toward the camera. Next, have the child fit his whole body into the screen by moving away from the camera. Ask the next student to do the same. When he or she moves away from the camera, it is to join the first child who remains standing so his entire body fills the screen. Ask a third child to participate and so on until no more bodies can fit within the viewing screen. Students will find they must continue moving backward as more bodies try to fit onto the screen.

Mirror Mirror

Two people take their places in front of the camera which is on a tripod. The players will be recorded in profile which eliminates the need to stare into the camera’s eye. The two players face each other. Player A initiates a movement, and Player B must exactly follow that action as if he or she were a mirror reflecting the actions of Player A. Simple procedures like raising your arm, putting the arm back down, or placing the palm against an imaginary surface are all examples of concise body movements suitable for the mirror exercise. Player A initiates the movement three times, and then it is Player B’s turn to initiate the movement. Each player should take two turns and then view the replay. Evaluate the activity using the questions from below. Students should be comfortable in this activity because they have a point of concentration and are busy enough following the leader’s movements that they can forget the camera.

Hand Jive

Students stand in a circle. One person pretends to mold an object into a shape, uses it, and passes it on to the next person who also uses the object. He or she then remolds the thing into another object of their own choosing, uses it, and passes it on, etc. For example, Player A might pantomime the molding, squeezing, and manipulating of a mass of air into an imaginary bowling ball. When the player is finished, he or she would roll the ball down an imaginary alley. Students should not guess at the pantomimes. The time for this will come when viewing the activity after it is recorded.

Suggest to the participants that they plan several possibilities for pantomimes before filming begins or give students cards listing an object. There are objects listed below which can be used. Planning specific movements is vital to the communication process. Remind students to remember size, texture, weight, and shape while molding. Everyone should have a turn to create and mold an object with their hands.

Students should take turns operating the camera as they finish their pantomime. They will have to follow the movements as play proceeds around the circle and should focus in on the detailing executed by the hands during the molding. The students should be busy creating and concentrating so that they forget the camera.

Video Charades

This activity closely resembles Hand Jive, except the pantomime includes the entire body and not just the hands. Also, the object is not created by the participants, but the object is there to be used in such a way that the audience should be able to guess what it is. Again, the student should be asked to plan a pantomime or the teacher can give the students cards with the object. Time should be allotted for students to jot down specific clues for pantomiming their object. These notes are not to be carried on the set.

Students take turns filming the pantomimes. Students can use close-up, medium, or long shots to include all the action. The students walk onto the set as the participant in front of them exits.

Participants enter from one direction and exit from the opposite. The camera keeps rolling. Students should not try and guess the pantomimes. Again, this should be saved until viewing the film.

Objects To Be Pantomimed

(For Hand Jive or Video Charades)

ice cube

sand box
alarm clock
jump rope
baby bottle
can of pop
chewing gum








roller skates
golf club
nail file
soccer ball

Where In The World

This pantomime experience involves students acting out their exact location. Actors must provide clues for the audience which will help them to understand their particular surroundings. The same procedures are used as in Video Charades, except students think of clues and translate them into actions that will evoke a particular setting or location in the mind of the audience.

Places To Be Pantomimed

ski lift
space shuttle
mountain top
bball court
fire station
rain forest
rock concert
doctor office
school bus
window ledge
principal office
roller coaster
tennis court
high dive
haunted house
jewelry store
race car

Howdy Partner

For an initial speaking experience on camera, students might be more comfortable introducing a classmate instead of facing the camera to talk about their own lives. Participants could choose a partner and find some facts to share with the class. The presenter should take notes that he or she could refer to as the camera rolls.

Another student should film the introduction using a two-shot (both people in the camera range) angle.

This allows the viewer to see the person talking and the person they are talking about. It might also eliminate some of the tension felt when only one person is on camera. However, the camera person could try focusing in on a person as they are talking.

Possible Topics For Introductions: Name, Age, Birthdate, Hobbies, Interests, Family, Pets
Favorites: food, movie, TV program, book, musician, sport, subject in school, etc.

Ready, Set, Action

Have students take turns experimenting with different camera angles and shots by filming a still-life composition such as a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers pleasingly arranged in front of a backdrop. The camera person must shoot the scene from five different angles or shots and it is up to the camera person as to whether they need to turn the camera off before a new shot or angle. The camera person could experiment with some of the shots discussed earlier.

For example, (1) a student might first choose a high angle shot of the composition and then turn the camera off. (2) The camera is turned back on and the object is filmed from a low angle while slowly (3) panning to the right. (4) Then zoom in on a particular aspect of the object, and (5) finally slowly dolly out until a wide-angle shot of the whole composition is filmed.

Turn On The Tube

Two teams of four to five people engage in this assignment meant to exercise the actors’ ability to change characters. One team plays the television actors and the other team plays a family sitting in front of the television. The TV actors should be supported with various add-on pieces of clothing (hats, shawl, sweaters, purse, beard, etc.) and a prop table (phone, kitchen utensils, sports equipment, etc.). Each family member calls out his or her favorite television show, goes to the “TV” and turns on the set. The actors must improvise the show called for by the family. If the family tires of a performance, they simply “change the channel” or call for another program. Family members can select current, popular sitcoms, soap operas, news broadcasts, kiddy shows, cartoons, or even old reruns. The actors and the family then reverse roles.

If a large shadow screen is available, the actors can play their roles behind it to create an interesting video effect. Again, a student is filming the events. Filming could take place over the head and shoulders of the family members. The camera should be turned off after a family member “changes the channel". This gives the TV actors a chance to switch roles. This activity would be an excellent place for students to begin experimenting with camera position during filming.

Student Productions: Project Ideas

Video projects are a great way to motivate students. Whether developing a music video, re-enacting a historical events, or taping a cooking show, students love the challenge of planning and producing their own projects. Along with having lots of fun, teachers can also address standards across the curriculum. Students must write scripts, understand the content, and collaborate with their peers.

Watch the student-produced videos Wizard of AppsSomewhere Over Web 2.0, and Tinman on CreativityScarecrow on ResearchLion on CommunicationDorothy on Digital Citizenship.

Many students have access to video cameras at home and love to create their own videos. Consider ways that you could put this talent to work on student video projects.

Both 30-second video clips and 20 minute documentaries can be effective learning experiences. When designing assignments for students, start with the specific learning outcome rather than the video product itself.

From media fair projects to digital storytelling, video have become increasingly popular.

Try It!
Explore Mabry Film Festival. Watch video projects by middle school students. Although the project is now done, notice how the award winning films focused on quality content in addition to the technology aspects of the project.

smallAnnette's Reflection
Watch the 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Squad video.

A 4-H teen leader and her 4-H youth created this video using a Flip camera, Garageband, and iMovie with a little help from me. It won a state video award!

Explore some project ideas:

Wonderful Welcome

Begin recording the first day of school. Put that first day’s discussion of school rules and expectations on video. Now if a new student enters your classroom at any point in the year, you can bring a student up to date about dress code, discipline, and expectations without using valuable class time to do so. The video can also be sent home to inform parents about the new school their child is attending.

Daily Announcements

Many schools do daily announcements. In some cases, they're handled by the school library. Check out Gateway Middle School's, Schroeder News, and Glenridge Middle School - OCPS's daily announcements

Library Marketing

From booktalks and book reviews to advertisements and book trailers, there are many ways to use videos to promote reading.

Get youth involved with promoting the library. Check out an example from Poteet Pirate Library - Not your typical library! 

Video Yearbook

Film events throughout the year. This is a great video to show parents at the end of the year and can also serve as a year-end activity if you have students help to edit and put together all the raw footage. Check into local TV stations or universities with editing equipment. It may be possible to have the record professionally edited with graphics and music for a relatively low cost. A copy of the video would be a neat keepsake for each student. What a great public relations video to show at Open House the following year!

Music Video

Many educational objectives can be met with this fun project. Students must exercise creativity and cooperation to make a music video. Editing a music video is a great way to develop editing skills.

Student Portfolio

videoEach student has their own personal digital video USB drive. At the beginning of the year students video record each other to document their beginning communications skills, knowledge of content areas, etc. They record again at the end of the year to create a before and after record of the students’ progress throughout the year. Now each student has a personal student portfolio to take home to mom and dad at the end of the year. Could this replace the traditional grade card? In the example, a student is reading a book aloud for the camera.

Speak Easy

Discuss the elements of speaking before an audience. Film students as they perform “show and tell”, book reports, poetry readings, etc. in front of an audience. Then let the students view the video as a class or in private. Seeing is believing. Now when you tell the student they rocked back and forth or spoke too quickly, they will see it for themselves.


Film a play complete with costumes, props, and scenery on video. If an actor truly “flubs” their lines, erase it and do it again. It might be fun to save the mistakes. If your students don’t mind, make a segment of “bloopers” to show at the end of the production just like some sitcoms do on TV.

Historical Re-enactments

Have some fun by re-enacting historical events. Existing videos can provide resources and inspiration for student projects.

How Tos

Videos that provide instruction in arts, crafts, and do-it-yourself projects are particularly popular in public libraries. Explore Vimeo's DIY Making Arts & Crafts channel for examples. Another topic popular with public libraries is baking and cooking. Explore the Vimeo Cooking channel.

Puppet Shows

Just as with a drama production, put the puppet show on film. It might be easier to hide the puppeteers from the viewer this way.

Literature Encounter

Perform choral readings, original writings, or literature on video. Share the video with younger classes.

Talent Show

Plan a video highlighting student talent, such as singing, piano playing, and magic acts.

Book and Movie Trailers

Students love creating book and movie trailers. For ideas, go to BookTrailers from The Booklist Reader. Or, explore publisher websites and YouTube for examples.

Watch Catcher in the Rye. How could you use this project to motive learners to create their own book promotions? Also, check out Handmaid's TaleOf Mice and Men.


video 2Students need practice writing interviews and conducting interviews. Check out the example on the right. Why not have them conduct an interview on video while someone else films it? Parents or local residents with interesting occupations or hobbies could be brought right into the classroom through video.

Video Field Trip

Take the video camera along on the class field trip. Use the video to aid in a discussion of what was learned on the trip as well as to bring back fond memories.

Video Vacation

Do you have a student who will be missing some school due to a vacation? Rather than have them keep a written journal about their vacation... how about a video. The trip to Mexico or the visit to Amish country would be a learning experience for all those students who were left behind.

School and Class Television Programs

Library media specialists are increasingly involved with school-wide video programs. From local cable stations to webcasting there are many ways for students to share their productions with others.

Many schools are developing their own streaming video webcasts. One of the best examples is CHSTV.

Digital Storytelling

Young people enjoy telling stories using audio and video tools.

From life stories to historical reflections, digital storytelling is a wonderful way to share stories. Explore Digital Storytelling for examples of video storytelling.

Explore Digitales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories by Benajean Porter. For learners of all ages, this excellent resource provide step-by-step guidance in telling your own digital stories. Be sure to check out the StoryKeeper's Gallery, examine the DigitTales Tools, and explore the Resources section.

Public Service Announcements

From public service announcements to skits and demonstrations, there are many opportunities for video in learning. Watch public service announcements from The Advertising Council's YouTube Channel to learn more about the characteristics of an effective PSA. Explore the example on the right from YouTube.

Explore examples of library oriented video created by students and librarians and posted on YouTube.


Many young people are interested in filmmaking. Both public libraries and school libraries provide opportunities to people to get together for discussions and projects related to video projects. Explore the Carolina Photojournalism Vimeo page for an example.

Other Ideas

Librarian and Classroom Teacher Productions

In addition to student productions, you can probably think of many ways to use video in the classroom yourself. If you still need some ideas, use the list below.


video 3Just how do you demonstrate the dissection of a frog so everyone can see it? Through a video, that’s how. Film difficult or dangerous demonstrations or experiments. Use the video to teach standardized procedures which must be performed in a specific way, such as first aid training. These recordings allow you to pause, speed up, slow down, or play it again until students understand. The example on the left shows a teacher produced video on creating an origami crane.


Field Trip Alternative

Finances or logistics sometimes hinder the teacher from taking students on field trips, so why not bring the field trip to them? Use your camera to bring other cities, states, countries, or events into your classroom.

The Substitute

If you’re uneasy about a substitute following your lesson plan, feel more at ease by leaving them a video video of the lesson.

Class Act

By setting the video camera in an inconspicuous place in the classroom, you may learn how to improve your teaching and students may learn how to improve on their behavior. You may find that you don’t allow students much time to think after asking a question before you call on someone to answer. Disruptive students may see their actions from a new perspective and improve upon bad habits. Let students know that you are using the camera to improve the learning environment, not just to “catch” them doing something wrong.

Faculty Workshops

Record especially good lessons or demonstrations and share successful lessons with each other.

Parent Conferences

Make a video of difficult student problems. Use the video to elicit support for special school programs or to get ideas from the parents on how to resolve the problems.

Project Evaluation

Checklists, rubrics, and other assessment tools can be used to evaluate student projects. Be sure to think about both the process and product. If students are working in groups, consider both individual and group assessments. Explore a couple ideas below:



Lange, Patricia A. (2014). Kids on YouTube: Technical Identities and Digital Literacies. Left Coast.

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