New Literacies & Video/Multimedia in the Classroom (M, T, & W)

Hiller A. Spires, Kimberly Turner, & Ian O'Byrne

View all the Videos Made During the Digging Deeper Video & Multimedia Sessions:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

“Making videos. Very cool.” ~Josh, 8th grade student

Josh’s positive sentiment is representative of a growing trend among youth who embrace video as a natural mode of communication and self-expression. The seductive nature of the video medium for students and the potential for subsequent engagement in content driven curricular outcomes, when students generate their own productions, is exponential. There is a growing need for innovative instructional practices with reading and writing that are aligned with student interests and the activities they engage in outside of the classroom (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010; Lenhart, Arafeh, Smith, & MacGill, 2008). There is also evidence that links the use of technology to improvements in curricular outcomes for learners (Kulik, 2003). Educators are familiar with the transition students go through from “learning to read and write” to “reading and writing to learn” (see Vacca & Vacca, 2010). As a result of emerging technologies prompting new avenues for teaching and learning, students are now positioned to be engaged in “creating to learn," with video and multimedia being important tools for literacy development. Connecting video production to reading and writing experiences in school taps into a student’s natural predisposition for media consumption and production. The stage is set for students to create their own content as a dynamic mode for learning in conjunction with explicit instruction provided by teachers in how to effectively locate and synthesize web-based (and print-based) information (Lawrence, McNeal, & Yildiz, 2009).

Excerpted from Spires, Hervey, Morris, & Stelpflug, 2012.

In this session, we will explore ways for students to "create to learn" through the use of video production. You will learn three different approaches to creating videos in class that have varying levels of complexity, involve high levels of student engagement, and connect to targeted academic content and student learning outcomes.This session highlights and supports selected Massachusetts English Language Arts General Standards (June, 2001).

I. Collaborative Inquiry & Flippin' Out! (40 minutes)

Step 1:
In today's session, we will address the overall question: How has the US government recently intervened in or influenced international crises?
To answer this overall question, we have provided a subquestion for each table to address:
  • Table 1: Provide a short summary of the US's general foreign policy. (Pay attention to how this policy would apply to international crises).
  • Table 2: How has the US government intervened in Greece's economic crisis?
  • Table 3: How has the US government intervened in China's undervaluing of its currency?
  • Table 4: How has the US government intervened in the Haiti crisis?
  • Table 5: How has the US government intervened in the genocide crisis in Darfur?
  • Table 6: How has the US government intervened in the North/South Korea conflict?

Step 2:
In your group, each member selects a role to play during the Collaborative Inquiry activity:
  • Facilitator - Guide the group to complete the process and collaboratively answer the question within the designated time frame.
  • Time Keeper - Keep the group on schedule.
  • Provocateur - Help provoke the group to think deeply about what they are learning.
  • Scriptwriter - Take the lead in creating the group's constructed response.
  • Videographer - Take the lead in directing/recording the group's 45 second video response.

Step 3:
Each table will engage in the following inquiry process:
  • Gather & Analyze Information
  • Creatively Synthesize Information
  • Critically Evaluate & Revise
  • Represent and communicate your constructed answer in a creative way using a Flip camera. Limit your video clip to no more than 45 seconds.(If you like, upload your video at to share with participants). Here are some FLIP camera directions and tips.
  • After viewing your video clip, give Kim your Flip camera; she will finalize the collaborative video product.

Step 4:

  • 3 Volunteer Synthesizers: Synthesize the information that Tables 1-6 presented and generate a closing perspective that answers the overall question: How has the US government recently intervened in or influenced international crises? You have 45 seconds! Record your synthesis with the Flip camera and give it to Kim. (Today we are conducting an inquiry process in a forced, compressed time frame to illustrate how to use video collaboratively with your students to view and create content. Obviously, the inquiry process involves more depth and complexity of thought--see from Concept to Class for a great explanation. Also see for great tips for video production.)

II. Cinema Veriteen: Student-Content and the YouTube Aesthetic (20 minutes)

  • Inquiry: Making it challenging, creative, and personal.
  • The YouTube aesthetic:
    • Low budget, low-fi, do-it-yourself.
    • 57% of online teens say that they watch videos on video sharing sites such as YouTube (
  • Creative synthesis--A 21st century skill.
  • Assessing student-generated videos.
    • Complexities related to student generated videos.
    • Are complex thinking and the YouTube aesthetic mutually exclusive?
    • Understanding Media Literacy
  • C-SPAN's StudentCam is an annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think seriously about issues that affect our communities and our nation. Students are asked to create a short (5-8 minute) video documentary that addresses a social issue.

III. Using Video to Learn Academic Content--Web 2.0 style (40 minutes)

In this segment you will work with a partner to create a content related short video using Animoto Animoto automatically produces well-orchestrated, unique pieces from your photos, video clips and music.
Step 1:
Go to Animotoand register.

Step 2:
Here is an example of a content clip.

Step 3:
With a partner(s) create a 30 second video related to academic content that you teach. You can use Flickr Commons ( to find photos with no copyright restrictions for your video. Some suggestions for content clips are:
  • Book Trailer
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Literary Elements
  • Grammar Mini Lesson
  • Dramatize a poem
  • Favorite scene from a book, play, or movie
  • Story Remix
  • Other ideas?

Step 4:
Reflect with your partner on how you can use this type of exercise for students to view and/or produce academic content.

IV. Share Collaborative Inquiry Video and Debrief (20 minutes)

  • What did you learn?
  • What were you surprised about?
  • Did you collaborate effectively?
  • What was the quality of your work? What skills do you need to practice?
  • How can you use this process with your students?
  • What are the potential intellectual gains for your students?
  • How can this approach support reading and writing achievement?

Find more videos like this on New Literacies Collaborative

Related Resources

  • Copyright and Fair Use Resources

- Code of Best Practices for Fair Use Practices in Media Literacy Education - Temple University

- Copyright and Fair Use SlideShare - Spiro Bolos, New Trier High School

- A Fair(y) Use Tale: A Short Film on Copyright and Fair Use (an example of a mashup)

- Creative Commons

- CC Mixter (free use music)

  • Video Editing Resources:

- Click here for a page featuring tutorials on MovieMaker, Audacity, and VoiceThread.

  • Related Websites

- Animoto for Education
Free, unlimited videos for teachers and students (Takes two weeks to complete registration).

- Toondoo
Toondoo is a cool, comic-creating tool from Jambav, a fun site for teachers and students. Jambav is devoted to creating a unique array of free and customizable online games of educational value for children of all abilities. Toondoo allows you to represent what you learn creatively through a comic strip.

- A Fable for Teachers on New Literacies
Demonstrates how literacy tools and practices have evolved through the ages.

- Andrea Gambino talks about New Literacies & Global Learning program.

- Ian's hoax website project examples

  • Related Texts

Bull, G., & Bell, L. (Eds.). (In press). Teaching with digital video. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Teacher Education (ISTE). [Note: Book will feature chapters focusing on each of the content areas and more.]

Kajder, S., & Young, C. A. (In press). Teaching English with digital video. In G. Bull & L. Bell (Eds.), Teaching with digital video. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Spires, H., Hervey, L., Morris, G., & Stelpflug, C. (2012). Energizing project-based inquiry: Middle school students read, write, and create videos. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55(6), 483-493. doi:

Spires, H., Hervey, L., & Watson, T. (in press). Scaffolding the TPACK framework with literacy teachers: New literacies, new minds. In S. Kajder and C. A. Young (Eds.), Research on English language arts and technology. Greenwich, CN: Information Age Press.

Spires, H., Wiebe, E., Young, C. A., Hollebrands, K. & Lee, J. (2009). . Friday Institute White Paper Series. NC State University: Raleigh, NC.

Young, C. A., Long, S., & Myers, J. (2010). Editorial: Enhancing english language arts education with digital video. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 10(1). Retrieved from