Video Story Problems 101

Traditional story problems are dull, disconnected, and often don’t offer much opportunity for students to work with material and challenges from the real world that may connect with them in an affective or meaningful way. Video story problems are an attempt to capture curiosity and examples of math and science from the real world, and bring them into the classroom, where students can provide narrative structure around their learning.

I’ve been blessed to present this concept for the 2012 K12 Online Conference, the annual MACUL conference in Michigan through the REMC association, and will hopefully be able to continue developing the concept in the months and years to come as school districts tackle integrating more social media and digital literacy into their learning environments in hopes of amplifying student voice. These have been great opportunities for me to reflect on why I started playing around with the concept of video story problems in the first place, and why I think it’s such a powerful model for both bringing real world problems and curiosities into the classroom, as well as a great way for students to tackle some of the Common Core’s Standards for Mathematical Practice. Many of the students have had to model, demonstrate appropriate strategies, and use technology to “explain the mathematics accurately to other students”. It’s still an imperfect process, but most learning worth tackling is, and I have no doubt that all involved will continue to grow and get better at using digital media to help students demonstrate math in the real world and share mathematical processes with their peers around the country.

After watching a number of other screencasts that covered a LOT of information, I wanted to create something that was simpler, and allowed me to showcase several examples of video story problems without the need for me to drone on and on. Below is the screencast I put together with the help of my daughter, teachers Brian Bennet, students from Michigan in Sean Dardis and Ben Curran’s classrooms and students from Virginia in Tyler Hart’s classroom. If you can’t view the embedded youtube video below, you can watch it here as well.

I really wanted this presentation to be a “Video Story Problems for Dummies” type introduction, as I don’t claim to have as great an understanding of mathematical concepts beyond the rather simple elementary topics of numeracy, fractions, and number sense. I do have a decent grasp on creating digital media, including video work, and wanted to showcase several different ways teachers and students are using video to capture and/or create mathematical learning experiences. There are certainly a LOT more people involved with the video story problem project, but I wasn’t able to fit them all in to the screencast for time reasons. I would highly recommend also checking out videos from Chad Conklin, Jason Osborn, Derk Oosting, and Jason Valade.

Resources to Get You Started

There are several other ways to learn more about video story problems, and how you can get started with them in your classroom. In the end, I would love for the idea to take off in a hundred different directions as educators begin to feel more comfortable putting cameras in the hands of their students and affording them the chance to narrate and share their own thoughts and learning that’s happening both inside and outside the classroom. Check out some of the links below to learn more.

Video Story Problem Channel – All of the currently submitted to the VSP Channel on Vimeo are found here, and you’re welcome to hare your own if you create some, just contact me!

Sean Dardis’ Video Problem “Think Through Form” – A nice graphic organizer to get learners thinking about the steps and processes needed to create a video story problem.

Sean Dardis’ Updated “Think Through Form” – This document includes options for how students wish their work to be shared.

Mathematical Writing to Inform Rubric – A rubric to help students write clearly about mathematical concepts. Could easily be adapted for video work or science.

Exemplar Standards-Based Math Rubric – Produced by NCTM, it also addresses the Common Core Math Practice Standards

Ben Curran’s “Leave Your Mark” post on VSP – A nice reflection on all of the “hidden” lessons students have to learn while creating a learning artifact for others.

My Video Story Problem Planning Template – A simple graphic organizer for getting students started.

Video Story Problems – A Heap of Examples – 5 examples of Ben’s favorites


How to Contribute to the Video Story Problem Channel

Just in case you do want to start creating some video story problems with your students, it might be cool for you to come share them with the Video Story Problem channel. The video below should give you a good overview of how to make that happen.


  1. Hi! I sat in on the MACUL conference session “Using iMovie to Create Video Math Problems” and I just uploaded two to Vimeo. Thanks so much for the wonderful ideas! I’m using them in my classroom tomorrow!

    1. Awesome! Please feel free to come back and share how well they were received, and if you have plans for having students create their own to practice their digital storytelling and math skills.

      If you’d like to share a link or your Vimeo profile, I’d love to make you a contact, and allow you to add videos directly to the Video Story Problems Channel 🙂

  2. Hi Ben, I’ve seen your blog mention this project but this the first time I looked more closely. It’s so elegant in its simplicity and approachability; I hope to turn some international students on to it in my travels this month.

    You have more fun buying groceries than just about anyone!

    1. Thanks Alan! Your comments on this project mean a lot! It’s something I’ve been working on for awhile now, and despite my abusive nature of Twitter, I’m only now starting to feel comfortable “publicizing” work like this so as not to appear too self-promoting. It’s easier for me to showcase all the great student videos when I present this at a conference. I would LOVE some international videos to start popping up, that would be very cool 🙂

  3. Hi Ben!
    I really really love this idea of giving students the opportunities to learn through real life story problem videos. I think it’s very common core, and is an excellent tool for the classroom.

    I teach second grade. Do you have any math story video problems or resources where I can get video story problems for my students?

    Thanks so much. I really enjoyed checking out your channel on Vimeo.


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