I spend about 97% of my time each week teaching kids, chasing kids, feeding kids, cleaning up after kids, or sleeping in order to recover from kids.
Every once in a while, though, I am able to steal a few minutes of time just for fun not involving kids. Most of that time these days goes to blogging, but I also look forward to time to run, be crafty, and make videos, among other things.
So when the second annual Lights, Camera, Lynchburg video contest was announced, I knew I had to participate if I could eek out the time to make it happen. At the expense of a few lost hours of sleep and (traditional) instructional time, I now have three entries. Yeah, I’m a bit embarrassed by the number, but after I got started, I just couldn’t seem to let any brainstorms go to waste.
So, read on to hear the background story for each video, or just skip straight to the real point of this post and go here to vote for any of the videos that say “Proffitt.” I promise voting is really easy…no registration required!
Mad Math in Lynchburg
This was the first idea I had, and it was inspired by a book my class read together. Since I teach math and science, I felt like I had to make a video that had at least a loose connection to what we were supposed to be doing in class, and this fit the bill. My students brainstormed several Lynchburg places they would like to feature in their video, and then another teacher friend and I got to work figuring out a way we could share a bus to make a field trip out of this project. (Check out her finished video here. Vote for her too!)
Our day out on the town began with a stop at the Lynchburg Academy of Fine Arts. The highlight for me was seeing the historic theater that is under construction, imagining what it was like in its prime and what it will be when it is finished. I’m pretty sure, however, that the highlight for my students was either playing in the fog machine or squealing when our guide turned the lights off backstage. Next up was lunch at Riverside Park. After they played on the new equipment and ate lunch, they got to pose as extras for the playground opening ceremony. We knew nothing about this event ahead of time, but our timing couldn’t have been better. Our last stop was Rise Up climbing gym. Six of my students had earned a chance to climb by collecting the most points in a math program during the previous week.
Back at school, my class wrote the math problems that they wanted to feature in our video and then recorded the narration using a voice recorder. The final step was capturing the shots we needed in the classroom and in the dream. We visited both the roof and the abandoned fourth floor classrooms, spaces that are normally off limits to students. Though we lost a day or two of instructional time, I believe we made up for it with the memories that we created. I hope they’ll be 30 and say, “I remember one time in fourth grade that my teacher took us to the roof to make a video…that was so cool!”
We Live in Lynchburg
I teach two different classes of students, and I really wanted my second class of students to have an opportunity to enter the contest too. I told myself, however, that I couldn’t commit to it unless I came up with an idea that I could pull off in just one day. I had spent so much time writing, recording, and editing the first one, that I knew I didn’t want to do something else complicated.
This was all happening right around the time of the election, and these kids caught my eye with their parody of an oh-so-popular song. Figuring this would be an easy song to rewrite and then sing, I decided to give it a try. Poor Jay had to listen to me try to match the tune for nearly two straight hours one night. He’s such a good sport.
When I pitched the idea to my class the next day, a few boys were less than excited with my song choice. Thankfully they quickly got over that when they realized there would be an opportunity to show off their dance moves after we got the words recorded. They are all a bit obsessed with the Gangnam Style dance, and I agreed that this could be allowed in moderation. We practiced the song, recorded it on my laptop, then spent the rest of the afternoon traipsing around school pretending we were music video stars.
Oh, and I must give credit where credit is due! Sensing my stress when I realized I had bit off more than I could really chew, Jay agreed to edit this one for me. I admit I was a little leery of his skills at first, but his musical ear turned out to be a huge asset to the project. He did a great job, if I do say so myself.
My Lynchburg Story
So I entered my classes’ videos in the “Top of the Class” category for student groups and began the long process of waiting to find out if we would win anything. The wait ended up becoming even longer because the organizers extended the deadline by about a month. That’s code for, “We don’t have very many applicants,” so it got me thinking about making my own personal entry too during Thanksgiving Break. Jay had recently shown me this girl’s work, and we had given Bubba a big, magnetic dry erase board for his birthday the week before. Armed with a tripod, four markers, a lamp from Bubba’s room, and my camera, I sat down in the floor of my kitchen and gave it a try.
The idea with stop motion animation is that you draw a little, snap a picture, draw a little more, snap another picture. Draw, snap, draw, snap, draw, snap. Repeat….hundreds of times. When you are done, you load each of the hundreds of pictures into the video editing software (we used iMovie), and then tell it to display each one for just a portion of a second. Strung together, the pictures begin to look like a growing and moving drawing. Think of it like a digital flipbook.
All was going well except for one small problem….the lack of batteries for my camera. After raiding each and every remote, label maker, flashlight, etc. in my house for half-juiced AA batteries, I decided I must go to the 7-11 and get some if I ever wanted to finish this project. I’m telling you, only crazy people go to 7-11 at 2 a.m. With two fresh packs of over-priced batteries, I finally finished my story. Phew.
Once again, Jay agreed to help me with the editing a few days later, and I was thoroughly pleased with the outcome. My mom said it did make her cry when she watched the final version, but I’m pretty sure it was a good kind of cry.
So, if you haven’t already, please click on the links below to rate each of the videos. The video with the highest rating will be awarded the Viewer’s Choice Award. Last year my students won money in the Top of the Class category, and they decided to use their winnings to purchase exercise balls to use in place of chairs in our classroom. Who knows how they might decide to use the money this time if we win!?
You can vote once per computer for each video. Voting ends January 7th, 2013. Please “like” this post or leave a quick comment to let my students know you voted! Thanks!!