Nothing, and I mean nothing short of a field trip to Cedar Point, seems to motivate students as much as putting them in front of a camera. Whether it be a still shot or video, I’ve found that kids usually love the chance to “ham it up” for the camera. Couple that enthusiasm with a subject area and you have the potential for some seriously creative learning. During my internship (a few years back) my mentor would have students write in “processing journals” to help better understand their Social Studies vocabulary. Once the words from the unit were written in the journal it was up to the students to define them, usually using a dictionary, and then creatively process those definitions into something that was easy to understand. The students were encouraged to write poems, prose, create comics, or produce short plays in order to help them understand some of the more abstract concepts.
Taking a cue from the short plays, it would be relatively easy to use a video camera to capture students’ work for display to the rest of the class. While this idea may not be revolutionary, it is probably something many educators don’t feel they have the time for. Contrary to that belief, provided you’ve given the students enough time to prepare a script or concept map (possibly using Inspiration), the technical end has grown increasingly simple. A brief introduction and lesson on properly treating and operating the camcorder would be necessary, and heavy editing would probably not be necessary as it would mostly be used for a learning tool within the classroom. Students could create short skits, video tape role playing, or even create a video-log (known as a vlog) to be downloaded on the desktop to be viewed later in the day by other students. By setting up a station in the room you could encourage students to work independently (once you were sure they understood the concept) and create small video-logs of helpful hints, explanations for tough concepts, or skits. After awhile you’d have your own video library produced by learners, for learners.
I know this idea isn’t fleshed out very well (it’s summer, I have time to work on the details), so suggestions and thoughts are welcome.