While browsing the Internet a few months ago, I stumbled across some videos created by Mrs. Megan Palevich’s middle school students in Chesterfield, Pennsylvania. Her students were asked, “If you could say three words to the world … what would you say?” Their responses were compiled into videos set to music. It’s surprising how much emotion can be conveyed in just three words. This assignment would work for students at any grade level, I thought, including my tenth graders. I loved the idea, and when I showed the videos to my students, they were eager to try the project themselves.
This is how we got started. I made available two Flip video cameras for the students to borrow, and gave them the alternate option of recording their messages on their own cameras. I asked them to be creative and to keep the clips short (around 20 seconds or so). Don’t worry about sound, I said, because the individual clips would be muted. The first student to turn one in was Zach, who wrote his message in large red letters on snow and then recorded himself racing up a hill on a snowmobile. Seeing his clip made the assignment concrete for me and got me excited to see what each student would create.
Collecting new submissions every day was like getting little gifts from the students. James’ Darth Vader costume and dance made me laugh out loud. I was surprised when Dallas zoomed the camera out of his tent, and I like how Makayla’s balloons twirl into the sky. The clinks of Matt’s golf club delight the ears and beg not to be silenced. Laura’s note in the mailbox holds special significance to me and to many of our students who participated in a life-changing event at our school called Challenge Day. Several students turned in videos featuring their pets, including dogs, a horse, a rabbit, and even guinea pigs. It was amazing to see the students find creative ways to highlight their individual interests such as music, art and sports.
All together, the students turned in over 100 mini-videos! The ones posted on this blog include a sampling from each of the five class sections. Once all the videos were collected, the students voted on which songs they would like to have for their class videos. The clips were strung together in Windows Movie Maker. We ran into a momentary glitch when we realized clips created in formats such as .mov and .mpeg weren’t compatible with Movie Maker. Downloading a free video converter solved that problem.
At the end of each video is a Wordle, which includes the names of the participating students. A Wordle can be created at http://www.wordle.net/. It’s fun and addictive to play around with fonts, layouts and colors. I really like the Alpha Fridge Magnets font. To get the Wordle image into Movie Maker, we took a screenshot (“control” and “print screen”), opened it in Adobe Photoshop (“control” “v”), cropped the image, and saved it as a JPEG file. Then the Wordle image was uploaded to Movie Maker as a picture file.
Today is the last school day before year-end exams, so we’ve set aside some class time to watch their videos. It will be a unique way to honor each student’s message and to celebrate our diversity as well as our commonalities. The Three Words to the World video idea is featured on ABC News’ website. People can create their own Three Words videos and submit them there. Watch our video samples below, get inspired, and perhaps send in your own Three Words to the World video to ABC at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Your3Words/.
Waiting on the World to Change: Three Words Video
If Today Was Your Last Day: Three Words Video