Sunday, May 13, 2012

Authentic Writing!

Once upon a time, I wanted to a be a big wig journalist. Quicky, I realized I wasn't cut out for the field of journalism. I barely made it a semester in college, the only "journalism" aspect that stuck with me was my trusty Mac computer. This weekend, my trusty Mac came to my rescue after movie maker failed me. I'm getting ahead of myself.

As an end of the year writing project, I wanted my students to engage in an authentic writing task. I wanted them to create a product for a purpose. So! That's exactly what we did. My students had the task of creating How To videos for the upcoming 5th graders. These How To videos were to give advice on how to survive 5th grade.

Click here to purchase on TpT!

We started as a whole group and brainstormed what information was necessary at the beginning of 5th grade.  As a group, we came up with several bits of information that is important for 5th graders to know. Over the next couple days, small groups of students worked together to come up with a topic and began brainstorming. Groups were instructed to fill out a template (with supplies and step by step directions) to get the ball rolling for their videos. 

Our topics are:
How to Tackle the MAP Test
How to Organize Your Binder
How to Be a Role Model
How to Survive DARE
How to Survive Fractions

Next, we jumped into storyboards and scripts. This was so fun! The students came up with scripts on their own that included humor, costumes, props, and advice! I did have to guide a few groups in a different direction and encourage them to actually SAY the advice they wrote about. Once we got over that hump, we started practicing practicing practicing. 

Once we practiced a gazillion (yes, that's a word) times, we started filming. This was so fun! I wish I could make a blooper reel of all the funny outtakes. My little actors are made for the stage! Although.. I did have to remind them often, that laughing at their own jokes wasn't necessary. I said this line continuously, "You WROTE the jokes, you know they are funny! Don't laugh at them!!" Nonetheless, we made it through.. several... several..several takes. 

Click here to purchase my How To Writing kit on Teachers Pay Teachers! Or you can email me and I'll send it to you for free! :)

We were on a roll, filming everyday and just as I thought this project was going to be a major success - we ran into a little hiccup or two. Apparently, Windows Movie Maker hates Flip cameras and me. Yes, I'm at the point where I'm taking this personally. Let me break this down for you-
Plan A: Edit the clips in Movie Maker and publish to
Plan B: Edit the clips in Picassa and publish to

......did either of these work? No. Keep chugging along!
Plan C, D, E, F: Install new converting software on my computer and edit the clips

Did this work? ALMOST! But no.

Plan W: Load all of the clips on my home computer and edit them at home and publish to

Did this work? YES! YES! It worked! God Bless iMovie and my trusty 'ol Mac!

All of my students signed a consent form to have their video published online and viola! You have the final products. Enjoy! Try not to learn too much now! Check out the rest on School Tube. Click the title for the link to the video.


  1. I cannot find the link for this on your teachers pay teachers store! Help!

  2. How's the swamps? From the pictures you look rather dark! I'm like hot damn! She black! I miss you, men. :( I haven't had a good laugh in a while... & those are beneficial to my survival! The day after you left I woke up & I was about to call you.. to tell you come over.. but I remembered you left me.. *sigh* oh, I had a dream about Joshua.& Cole..*awkward silence*.[can't say the details via internet] ;) I've been talking to my host family and what not. They love me.. already.. I think. I was talking to someone about you. & they said: When she comes back maybe she can make better rice now.. & they miss you as well. I don't know the exact date of when I leave but I hope its after you come back! So I can see you in real life again.. before my journey.. *sobs* Please be safe out there, young grasshopper. I LOVE YOU MAN! *sends virtual hug* Oh, it’s a girl going to the same place as I am.. & she asked me to teach her English.. but she’s from a Spanish speaking country!

  3. Hi, I can't find the product on TPT either. Should I be looking so ewhere else ? LOVE your idea!


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