Student Produced Video Field Trips

What is a student created video field trip? Simply put, it is an experience where a group of students goes to a site to shoot video, interviews, etc. and streams the video (live and archived) to students, parents, and others unable to attend in person. The field trip is easily enhanced with live chat of questions back to the students and experts on site. Video field trips are an ideal use of today's technologies to spare dollars and empower students to take charge of their own learning.

Getting the students on board to produce a video field trip is easy. Doing the first one can seem daunting, but this list of steps is FAR more comprehensive than you are likely to need and covers just about every possible contingency. TeachersFirst shares this how-to and why-to so you and your students will try it. Expand each point within these pages to learn what to do in detail—and skip the steps you already know or that don't apply!

Before: Enlist Administrative & Faculty Support ↓

First, do your homework to be sure that things will go smoothly with the tech folks and the school office. This is a one-time step. Once you have successfully completed a video field trip, your example will speak for itself and for any other teachers or students who want to do a similar project. Your one-time effort will benefit many, many students now and in the future.

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Check District Policies ↓

  • Does your school have a policy about taking pictures/video of students? Can they be shared on the web? Is there a permission form for this?
  • Is there a policy about posting student work to the web (since students will be writing and creating the video)?
  • If there are concerns about sharing video or work on the web, would it be permitted if done on a password-protected site?
  • Are there network or filtering restrictions for streaming video (usually due to concerns about overloading the network)?
  • Are there any policies about taking a group of student on foot to a nearby location outside of the school? Permission slips for this?
  • If needed, what is the procedure to request that a specific URL be unblocked for the classes doing the streaming video and for those watching it? See technical preparation for more detail on pretesting these URLs on your school network. Start by checking the URL for the streaming service you hope to use (ex. UStream).

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Get the Principal's Support ↓

  • Share a sample of a student-made video field trip done by another school or class. If at all possible, watch it together to avoid misconceptions. Here is an example project (archived) done by TeachersFirst and an elementary school.
  • Connect your proposed video field trip content to specific curriculum topics and to relevant, current school initiatives.
  • Invite the principal to introduce this first-edition live webcast
  • Offer to share full "how to do it" information with the rest of the school faculty as professional development.
  • Or ask to do the video field trip as a pilot, documenting the progress made by students both creating and watching the video field trip.
  • Where possible, adapt the video field trip idea to support the principal's priorities.

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Engage Faculty: Interdisciplinary Projects ↓

Find another teacher willing to team up on this project.

  • Perhaps the learning support and/or gifted teacher would like to reinforce or extend curriculum concepts for a new way of learning.
  • Perhaps the high school Key Club, NHS, or technology club would take on such projects in support of all teachers.
  • Perhaps another teacher in the same subject/grade is willing to team up so all your students can watch and learn together (or possibly a parallel teacher in another school within the district). This teacher could also help by serving as the "contact classroom" to check whether the video and audio are working properly before and during the actual broadcast. Get a direct phone number!
  • Perhaps an English/Language Arts teacher will team to do script-writing as a writing or speech activity to be used in science class and allow the "best" scriptwriters to do the video field trip with science students in lieu of another assignment.
  • Middle school and elementary teachers can team more easily. Look for an innovative, organized ally and a way to make sure the entire student video team is invested in the process.

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Photos taken during a video field trip by Merriwether Lewis Elementary, Portland, Oregon in celebration of Earth Day 2009.