Recently, students have been given the opportunity to do video projects instead of formally learning specific topics in class. Specifically for the sophomores, video projects have been assigned in English, Spanish, Algebra 2 and Trig, and AP European History. These projects consist of documentaries, health programs, math lessons, and newscasts.
In Algebra 2 and Trig, students were given the option to create a video 1-3 minutes in length explaining a topic in math that the students had already learned. This assignment was an extra credit opportunity for the students that gave them six extra points on tests. This project, unlike many of the others, was less guided and had more freedom which made it less of a chore. Students had fun making up creative songs about math topics.
In English however, students were told to create a documentary about 10 minutes in length about any topic in groups of approximately 4 people. Many of the students dreaded this project because of its length, strict guidelines, and lack of interest in the topics.
Recently the honors Spanish students had to create a healthy diet program or exercise program video project 2-4 minutes in length. Like the math project, this contained less strict structure and allowed for more freedom and ability to be creative. Students expressed their ideas and were able to make it comical and enjoyable. “I liked how the [Spanish] video project made us have to collaborate more. With other group projects I know that a lot of the time one or two people do most or all of the work but with [this] video project, everyone had to work and [appear in the video] equally as much. I think that video projects are effective because it forces you to really research that [topic] more in depth so you know what you’re talking about in order to have a successful video,” said sophomore, Christa Kiedaisch.
This was not the case however, in AP European History. Because of the lost days from Hurricane Sandy and the early date of the AP exam, teachers were forced to make creative amendments to their lesson plans for the year to adapt to the loss of time. For example, AP Euro students were given time to create a newscast from the past summarizing a chapter from the textbook for which there was not enough time to cover in class.“I liked the Euro project because it involved the most creativity. However, it did not help me learn the subject as well as I would’ve learned it from an actual teacher. I felt that the project was more dominated by learning how to use all technology and learning how to work better with others,” said Sophomore Alyssa Goodman, an AP Euro student.
However, many students have completely negative opinions about the video projects. “Personally I don’t think any of the projects have helped my learning process. But I can see how it could’ve helped other people. If I had to choose which one I liked the best it would be math because it really helped with everyone’s grade and I felt that if you put in the effort of making the video then you should get some reward.” As these projects may seem abundant and unnecessary, some teachers view them as time saving techniques that can relieve the stress of the teacher and the student in the regard of finishing the curriculum with substantial time for review at the end of the year.
Despite the abundance of video projects for the sophomores, the juniors only had one video project this year. In Mrs. DeStefano’s AP Lang class, students had to make a Macbeth video in which they reenacted some of the scenes from the play. “I really enjoyed the project since we were able to be creative and show our own flair on Macbeth. I like video projects when teachers give us enough time to work on them and enough notice of the due date. When we are given enough time to work it is possible to find a meet date and get the project done outside of school,” said Josh Bainnson. In this case, the students were given ample time to complete their projects and the project was an enjoyable success.
As pressuring as video projects may be, occasionally they can help students learn topics in a surprisingly unique way. As the peak of video projects seems to occur in 10th grade, it seems to taper of drastically in 11th grade.