StudentCam in the ClassroomC-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
Tracey Van Dusen
Social Studies teacher
Pioneer High School
Ann Arbor, MI
Social Studies teacher
Springville-Griffith Middle School
Incorporating StudentCam In Your ClassroomSelect 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:
- OPTION 1
Become an active faculty advisor for StudentCam. This requires planning for several days of class instruction. Educators must decide if they will provide the time necessary for students to develop their documentaries in class or if they will provide guidance to students and monitor their progress as they work independently on their projects outside of class.
Educators are not required to be active faculty advisors. In this case, fewer days of class instruction are necessary. The StudentCam competition can be introduced as a project to be completed outside of class as an assignment or submitted independent of the classroom.
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
- Before introducing StudentCam to your students, obtain a video camera and record several students and/or school personnel answering the following question: “Which is the most important issue that Congress should consider in 2014, and why?" Save these videos for a future lesson.
- Ask students to brainstorm a list of issues that they may like to create a documentary about, first individually and then as a class. Create a class chart based on students’ responses.
Instructional Time (1-2 class periods of traditional scheduling or ½ - 1 class period of block scheduling):
- Refer to the chart from the previous session to activate thinking. Show the previously filmed videos of students and/or school personnel sharing their interest in the various issues.
- Have students share their ideas on one of the videos they found most interesting.
- Ask students if they have ever seen a documentary. If so, which one(s)? Show approximately five minutes of a documentary. After watching the clip, discuss the differences between a documentary and a movie.
- Introduce your students to C-SPAN’s StudentCam competition by accessing the home page, www.studentcam.org. Briefly explain how they can win prizes by creating a documentary that reflects this year’s theme. (NOTE: If your students are not familiar with C-SPAN, you may want to explain C-SPAN, its mission, and how C-SPAN is different from other cable television networks). Choose a few winning documentaries from StudentCam 2013 to view with your class.
- Discuss various elements of each documentary. What did the student(s) do well? How could it have been improved?
- Explain the layout of StudentCam’s website and review the sections titled, FAQ’s, Rules, Prizes, and Getting Started.
- Is this to be an in-class or at-home project? Explain the parameters of the competition to students with regards to how much time and support will be given in school.
- For homework, have students think about a possible topic for their documentary. Require students to create a list of potential resources and possible interviewees. Have students search C-SPAN’s website for video that pertains to the issue that they might like to research for their documentary. (Students must have C-SPAN video in their documentary to be considered for a prize.)
- Researching issue
- Contacting and interviewing participants
- Writing documentary script or outlining a documentary’s storyboard
- Filming and editing the documentary
- C-SPAN awards 150 winning documentaries.
- Individual instructors can choose to make the competition a class assignment and grade accordingly using a rubric, or the competition can be assigned as extra credit.
- Students can research the issue and explain how public sentiment towards the issue has changed over time.
- Students can complete a topic paper prior to filming their documentary. The paper should explore different aspects of their selected topic and include proper citations. As a result, students will develop in depth knowledge of their topic prior to beginning their projects, which will likely result in better documentaries.
- Social Studies
- Media Literacy
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:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
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