StudentCam in the Classroom

C-SPAN Senior Fellow Tracey Van Dusen of Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, MI discusses how she incorporates the StudentCam documentary competition into her classroom. Tracey includes video testimonials and suggestions from her students.

From graded instruction with allotted class time for your students to work on the project, to simply suggesting it as an extracurricular assignment, StudentCam is a great way to get your students critically thinking about issues that are important to them and their community.

Examples of StudentCam Handouts & Rubrics

High School:
Provided by:
Tracey Van Dusen
Social Studies teacher
Pioneer High School
Ann Arbor, MI
Middle School:
Provided by:
Joe Karb
Social Studies teacher
Springville-Griffith Middle School
Springville, NY

Incorporating StudentCam In Your Classroom

Select Your Issue:

“A Message to the U.S. Congress”
What’s the most important issue that the U.S. Congress should consider in 2014?

Instruction Time Frame:

NOTE: Students should begin working on StudentCam at least one month before the deadline of January 20, 2014.

Objectives: The student will be able to;

1. Identify C-SPAN’s StudentCam competition and the requirements/goals of StudentCam.
2. Identify and critically analyze current issues of national significance.
3. Distinguish the difference between a documentary and a movie.
4. Demonstrate the use of varying viewpoints in a documentary and distinguish the difference between objective and bias reporting.
5. Create a five to seven minute documentary, synthesizing their analysis of their chosen topic.

Materials and Equipment:

1. Computer(s) with internet access
2. Newspapers, magazines and/or other online or print resources for research on a topic of national interest
3. LCD projector, computer monitor, SMART board (recommended to show examples)
4. A handheld video camera or other video recording device
5. Telephone and/or email access to set-up interviews
6. Video editing software or a video camera with editing capability
7. Video recording device if students decide to tape a C-SPAN program off of the television to use in their documentary
8. Completed online entry form

Anticipatory Set:

Step 1

Step 2
Instructional Time (1-2 class periods of traditional scheduling or ½ - 1 class period of block scheduling): Step 3 Independent Practice: Assessment and Follow-Up:

Extended Activity

Interdisciplinary Connections:

Common Core State Standards in ELA

The video contest is closely aligned to the new Common Core State Standards in ELA. It meets the following Standards:

ISTE’s National Educational Technology Standards (2007)


1. Creativity and Innovation
2. Communication and Collaboration
3. Research and Information Fluency
4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
5. Digital Citizenship
6. Technology Operations and Concepts