TOPS Collaborative

Sharing the best ideas from other teachers

January - Making Videos

This is January's teacher cooperative. I didn't know what else to call it, but I didn't want to call it the same old thing. I really hope that you guys read through this and pick out some ideas. Please share with me how you are implementing any of this stuff. I'll evaluate at the end of the semester whether this is worth our time or not.
Welcome Video Mrs P

Philosophical Framework - Existentialism (This part is probably boring.)

This is an important part of what we do. The reason we make videos is rooted in existentialism, which has become en vogue as an educational philosophy. The push for subjective thinking, authentic learning experiences, and a looser curriculum dovetail with the notion that the student and teacher must have an understanding not only of one another's role in their relationship, but they must also understand their essence as it relates to the subject matter. Without a personal, human connection this is lost and the rest is lost with it. Educational philosophies are chicken/egg. They're either popular first and that's how we view education, or they fit the current culture more than the previous philosophy and thus become what everyone is doing. It's important to understand the philosophical framework behind what we're doing and why we do it. Quite simply, constructivism just wouldn't work as well for us; we're fortunate that we're starting an online school in its autumn years during the renaissance of existentialism in education.

You do you

  • Your introduction video, and all videos, should be within your comfort zone.
  • The basic notion is that you're giving your students a connection with you that makes you human while also transmitting vital information that is best transmitted orally.
  • It's easy for students to disappoint people they don't know.
  • There are many teachers at TOPS who make great videos. Ask around if you need help with this.

Video links

Screencastomatic (PC/Mac)

Explain Everything (iOS/Mac/PC)

Swivl (will be housed in the TOPS office)

iMovie (iOS/Mac)

Windows Movie Maker (PC)

Quality Video - Lighting

You can see on the link below that ever professional filmmakers use common household items to get the best shot possible. While you might not be able to make every video professional, you might spend some time thinking about what your "studio" is going to be. It needs to be well-lit. Play around with the lighting. Try some of the tricks below. You don't have to have fancy lights to get those to work.
Cheap Lighting Tricks for DIY Filmmakers

Quality Video - Background

You can see Tanner's video below that he has a really strong, vibrant background. It's not too busy, but it's not plain either. You don't want your video to resemble a mugshot. I asked Tanner how he made is background and he said that he just got some fabric from Walmart and hung it between some PVC pipe stands. I'm sure you have a favorite blanket that would look great behind you.
DIY Instagram Photo Cube | Sizzix Teen DIY Craft

Should I lecture or not?

I think a little lecture goes a long way, while a lot of lecture just sucks the life out of everyone. Aim for about 6 or 7 minutes maximum. That's not always possible. I wouldn't ever go over 15 minutes.

Holding students accountable for your video content

Lindsay Marshall embeds the codes for students to take her quizzes and tests in her videos. That way students have to watch them.


Scott uses Edpuzzle. This allows you to insert questions at different times during the video and students aren't allowed to fast forward the video at all to click through it.


Other teachers in the past have given students guided notes. These are fairly easily copied from one student to the next, but since our students aren't exactly having slumber parties on school nights, you can probably get by with it most of the time.


What's important is that you have some manner to hold the students accountable for having watched your video.

What's good, Miley?

What makes for good video content?


Here's a scholarly article: https://thejournal.com/articles/2014/06/11/how-to-make-the-most-of-a-video-introduction-for-an-online-course.aspx


This is for businesses and the like, but I think there are some key points here to take home: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/5-styles-of-youtube-videos/


The folks at Purdue cover a lot of best practices here: https://www.purdue.edu/learning/blog/?p=6696


There are other numerous resources out there, so if you want to get great at making videos, then let Google be your guide.

Discuss this topic

This is a place for you to ask questions, make suggestions, or just talk about random stuff if you want.