Technology Integration

3 Steps for Creating Video Projects With Elementary Students

A straightforward plan for facilitating multimedia projects helps ensure collaborative learning and a fun classroom experience.

March 18, 2024
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Having elementary students make their own videos instead of consuming content made by someone else sounds like a highly engaging educational experience. But if you’ve ever tried to get 25 third graders to use a video editing software platform that they’ve never seen before, it can get really frustrating really fast. It’s easy for the lesson to become entirely centered around how to use the software without any subject-area content learning. 

Through years of trial and error with K–6 students, I’ve developed three guiding concepts for elementary video projects so that teachers and students have a good experience.

1. Keep it social

If students are only able to get technical assistance from me, they’ll wait around and often get frustrated and off task. It’s always good when students can get assistance from each other and get a lot more done. 

No teacher help for the first five minutes: Often when starting a video project, I go over basic instructions with the whole class, then tell them I will not be helping anyone for the first five minutes. They quickly find help from others, and generally the collective knowledge of the class is enough to move everyone forward.

Help two others, then they help two others, and so on: To avoid the possibility of one or two students helping everyone and not getting their own work done, I encourage all of my students to commit to helping two other people. If they help those two people in a way that those two really know what to do, pretty soon the multiplicative effect takes care of the whole room. Whenever I help someone, the expectation is that they would help the next person with the same issue. 

I only do what only I can do: When it comes to giving technical assistance, there are certain issues that may require a teacher (log-in questions, setup, etc.). I try to make sure that I leave myself available for those issues while having students help each other with everything else. When a student asks me a question, I’ll often ask the class, “Who knows how to ____ and is willing to help ____?” This allows the class to keep moving forward, and I am focused on the specific issues that only I will be able to resolve. 

2. Keep it Short and Simple

The first time that students are working with a software platform, I start with a simple and short project. You can simplify projects by setting a very low time limit (30 seconds) or having students complete a project that they’ve already started. For instance, students might create a soundtrack for a video clip I give them or add a video clip to a musical selection I provided. Interactive learning platforms like WeVideo (pricing varies by subscription level) offer a comprehensive library of video and audio clips that makes video creation easy for students. 

Students can also combine smaller projects into larger pieces. I often have pairs of students record themselves writing out single lines of the lyrics of a song. These lines can be combined into a quick lyric video of the entire song.

3. Make it shareable

One of the most powerful parts of video creation is the ease of sharing it with others. Students love to share their work and look at the work their peers made. Sharing the video also gives students motivation to complete the work quickly and efficiently so that they will be able to put it up for others to see and watch what their friends made.     

Interactive platforms give you what you need: Resources like Seesaw (there’s a free trial for teachers), Flip, and ClassDojo have security features that allow only parents to view the videos as well as comment approval so that teachers can monitor comments before others can see them. 

Provide QR codes in hallways or send them home: In my experience, it has worked well to combine “hard copy” art such as an album cover or poster with a QR code link to the video that can either be sent home or put up in school hallways. 

Exemplars for future students: Once a video project is done, it’s great to have student-created exemplars to show to classes in the future. Students always learn from seeing other students’ work, and each year the quality continues to rise.

Feature videos in assemblies: Premiering videos is a great way to feature students in whole school assemblies. The setup and physical preparation are much less involved than a live performance, and it gives students a chance to show their best work without being nervous that they will freeze onstage.

Examples in PRACTICE

I’ve put these principles into action in a few different projects.

2nd-Grade Major/Minor Videos in WeVideo: Using the audio and video libraries, students searched for “major” or “minor” audio, then selected video footage that they thought would fit with the audio. The project had a 30-second time limit. Once their work was completed, we posted it on Flip so that students could watch each other’s videos and add encouraging comments. Many of my second graders were able to complete the project in about 20 minutes. 

Character Trait Video Commercials: For another project, students created music in Soundtrap (there’s a 30-day free trial for educators) that corresponded to each  of our school’s character goals and then selected video to match it. The best videos were chosen by teachers and played as “bumpers” at our schoolwide recognition ceremonies.

Counting by Seven Videos and Hip-Hop Songs: Students wrote raps for multiplying, like “Seven, 14, 21, we are going to have some fun. Twenty-eight, 35, 42, just see what I am going to do.” Students recorded the song, then drew examples of sevens that were scanned into the video.

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Filed Under

  • Technology Integration
  • Collaborative Learning
  • K-2 Primary
  • 3-5 Upper Elementary

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