9th Grade Human Geography Students #DemonstratingUnderstandingby Stacey Roshan, Upper School Math/Technology Coordinator
Our ninth grade Human Geography students recently completed a unit in Agriculture and Rural Land Use. Teachers Ben Mosteller, Kristin Kowalew, and Allison Ewing wanted students to showcase their understanding of the unit by creating an Agricultural Awareness PSA. One of the tools we have been using often at Bullis this school year to help students creatively demonstrate and synthesize their knowledge is WeVideo, an online video editor that allows students to collaboratively work on projects from any device. A major benefit we have seen in using WeVideo for projects this year is that it gives some of our quieter students a chance to make their voice shine. Helping students build confidence in presenting has been a big focus of ours, and embracing tech tools like WeVideo has helped us achieve this goal.
"I was proud of the quieter students who stepped up and participated in the voiceover element of the project. We had them work in pairs but didn't mandate that both students talked - although almost all of them did." ~Ben Mosteller
About the topic
Students had been studying the rise of agriculture (including the various agricultural revolutions), many different forms of agriculture, and the overall impacts of rural land use. Students had already utilized a variety of media and case studies, including video and textual resources, to analyze the impacts of agriculture on the environment and globalization, and vice versa. Students had been working to:
- Analyze the interconnections of agriculture, the environment, and globalization.
- Understand problems and solutions in agriculture by watching various TED talks and YouTube videos
For this mini-project, students researched an agricultural issue in the DMV and were asked to make the public aware of it using WeVideo. Their issues could be about a positive advancement in agriculture that is 'fixing' an issue or a negative development that hinders agriculture. They were asked to consider:
- the problem,
- why it's important,
- what farmers are doing about it, and
- what role the public might play to help.
For their final product, they were asked to create a 1:30-2:00 minute long edited video, using images, video clips, and a voiceover.
Using WeVideo for this project
Our goal was to keep the video editing expectations simple for this project. Since most of our ninth grade students had not used WeVideo to this point, we decided we would ease them into things by having them start in the simpler Storyboard Mode. However, we found that most students ended up switching to the more robust, feature-rich Timeline Mode to make use of multiple tracks, custom animations, control of track and music volume, and more. Our students were able to make use of the vast, royalty-free library available in WeVideo in creating their projects.
We had students use this tutorial to get started on their project.
Students were assessed on:
- Quality of information -- explains the issue, why it is important, and provides solutions for the problem and ways to get involved
- Creativity -- engaging, clear, and has multiple helpful images
- Completion and formatting -- length: 90 seconds to 2 minutes; video is fluid and smooth
Outcomes and highlights
Here are a couple of final PSA projects that our ninth graders produced:
It was awesome to see students get creative beyond the scope of the project. Some students went the extra mile, and it showed in the final product. There are always things you don't expect when assigning a project the first time around, and for this one, it was pretty great to see how many students intuitively figured out some of the more advanced features WeVideo has available, even though it wasn't in the tutorial we provided them.
Another highlight related to a student who was absent when her group started the project. This student asked if she could work independently so that she could pursue an idea for the video project that she had. And so she did just that! Talk about not looking for an easy way out. It was fun to see student express their creativity in creating their PSA's.