Yesterday morning I talked with a teacher about a project that he’s done before – one he really enjoyed when he did it. It involved having students research charities, interview volunteers, and create videos telling the stories of how they work to improve their communities.

Like many teachers, he loves what can come from it, but has trouble working something of this scope into his curriculum. The reason why isn’t mysterious; it’s a big project that will require a big chunk of time.

The assumption for many is that the big chunk of time has to fit somewhere, as a whole. That may be a bad assumption.

In this project, comparing and contrasting several charities could fold into another writing activity they do in the fall. The explicit focus could be on what the charities say about themselves on their websites.

Developing questions one would have if one were to contact those charities could be a class starter on another day. The students look at their notes from when they did the compare-and-contrast piece and then brainstorm questions.

Another activity, related to business writing, could include taking those questions and sending them in a proper formal letter or email to someone at the charity. Getting a reply would help the students know that the charity is a good one to work with later should they do a video project.

Large projects are often the most memorable learning experiences of the year for students. If you can find ways to hint at what’s to come while helping students do groundwork they won’t have to do later, you are likely to make this a smoother experience for them and for you.

image credit: Grow by Kasturi Laxmi Mohit from Unsplash (license)

If you are interested in the Service via Video project and video contest, take a look at some of the past winners on this page. You can also contact us to let us know you are interested in having students participate in the 2018-2019 contest we’ll launch soon!

Categories: teaching advice

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