K12 Online Conference- Film School for Video Podcaster

This year the teachers at my school are taking off with video productions. This is mostly due to the 5 Flip Cameras we have available for checkout, every teacher having a classroom digital camera with video clip capabilities and the rise in their comfort level of using programs such as Microsoft MovieMaker and PhotoStory.

Film School for Video Podcasters
by Mathew Needleman

Mathew Needleman’s presentation caught my eye. I am excited to learn how I can help make movies more than

Glorified PowerPoints

So , how will we go beyond the aspect of dealing with using the tool alone and focus on teaching our students to:

Think critically, analyze media and become storytellers

While storyboarding think of:

  • Shot Selection
    • vary shots, sometimes far away, sometimes close up shots, higher angle, low angle
    • Give every shot meaning
  • Composition
    • Rule of thirds

Mathew brings up a very interesting questions to ponder:

Our students receive most of their information from movies, TV, iPods, YouTube… they are not reading as much books …so why are we teaching them 90% of the time to read and comprehend text in school?

Traditional text reading skills are necessary and important (of course), but we can’t overlook and ignore that we need to teach them how to decode, analyze and comprehend the media message they are confronted with on a day to day basis. I completely agree with Mathew! How can we not teach all types of media skills in school and apparently focus most of our attention of the interpretation of traditional text media, mostly in book and worksheet format.

The thought provoking video of Anthropology teacher Michael Wesh on YouTube came to mind while I was pondering about this question: Why are we continuing to teach that way most of the time?

Mathew suggests that by teaching movie production, including decision making skills about shots and composition, we are making our students aware how others are using them to make a point. He talks about kids having to learn to understand the media messages that are being thrown at them.  Critical thinking evolves out of figuring out why other have chosen to use certain shots and compositions to make their point and why.

It is a way of getting into media, inside out, deconstructing by constructing it. The same way we use writing to teach reading comprehension, we use video production to teach media literacy.

Mathew moves on to recommend equipment and some more technical details to consider when making movies in the classroom.


  • external unidirectional microphone
  • microphone positioned close to your students

Video Camera

  • get a mini DV, not a DVD burning or a Hard disk camcorder
  • make sure it has a microphone input


  • halogen lights
  • two Lights on stands (ideally three) to avoid harsh shadows
  • don’t point them right at the actor