Developing writing skills using iMovie

Economics is about the contrast between the conceptual understandings and the real world. I want students to make real links between the theories that we learn in class and real life examples of how these ideas actually work.

Towards the end of the Microeconomics topic I ask students to find articles that describe economic events. Obviously they need to find articles that have a microeconomics slant such as elasticity, market failure, demand and supply, shortages, surpluses etc. Once that have found that article I want them to write a commentary about the economic that are within the article.

Task: Creating a news broadcast

To scaffold the writing experience I experimented with using iMovie and asked the students to create a small 3-4 min video clip in the format of a news article on the evening news. We followed a basic process where students followed a couple of steps.

  • The students create a story board which describes the four mains scenes and follows a news broadcast format.
  • Draw a graph or model to explain the issue, which will be embedded into the video
  • Then use a green screen technique within PhotoBooth to analyse the graph and issue.

At the bottom of this post are a few samples of what the students produced. They could either publish these videos on youTube of keep them private within our classes youTube channel.

Where to next? from video to writing

In the next few weeks we will go back to these videos and use them to help students write their first economic internal assessment commentary. Hopefully the video and the structure of the storyboard will allow students to write an indepth commentary which focuses on analyzing the economic theory. I will use a template that links closely to the video structure and get students to think carefully about structure.

For ESL students the use of the video will hopefully assist them in the writing process. They have practiced their presentation skills, have focused on appropriate terminology and have a understanding of the context of the article through the use of pictures, images and other videos. They have taken time to prepare an explanation of the issue and have been forced to put this into simple words.

Reflection: What would I do differently?

Such video projects tend to drag on and can consume a lots of class time and can create an extra large piece of homework for students. I used the project at the end of a topic after the end of semester examinations. This was a good time to develop their skills in explaining and analsysing, was good revision and will support them when they write their internal assessments.

Next year I could use these an examples to show what was effective, as some students were vague on what the final product would/should look like. There was also a huge variety of skills in using iMovie between the students. Most of the students had done a similar project in Computer Technology but new arrivals relied on other students helping them climb the steep learning curve. I did a crash lesson for 45 mins on how to use iMovie with the help of an Apple Professional Developer Randy Yerrick and this would be something I would repeat again. It is good to focus on the advanced techniques such as Ken Burns transitions to extend the more proficient students.

The green screening technique (student talking in front of an image) is difficult to master without a wall of green paper. Students improvised with a blank wall but next time I need to think about the background and how to make this work with a big class. I still think that green screening allows students to be more involved in the explanation, and to carefully think about how they present their ideas succinctly.

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