K-12 Curriculum Development TMS Custom Resources Tools, Apps & Texts

TMS Production Menu (2006)

Collaborative, educational multimedia production poses many challenges. In a given learning environment, many factors must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, including the range of technical savvy among educators and youth, available technology resources, and the degree of technical support. This prevents a “magic bullet” prescription for media education through production, but it also provides opportunities for creative new media applications in virtually any situation!

Production Menu

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Below are a few of our own basic production outlines adaptable to various learning environments, along with examples from our past experience. For each type of production, we also list relevant teaching opportunities in traditional curricula (literacy, social studies, etc.), technology skill-building, and media education. Annotated online Media Productions

screenshot of a production

A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or phone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.
We use voicethread in schools to connect multiple literacies, educational technology standards, and to engage students with video, images and text in a collaborative online setting.

Curriculum support: literacy, fluency, social studies, storytelling, critical analysis of media

Technology integration: participation in social network, collaborative publishing, connecting multiple literacies in an online presentation

TMS production examples, tutorials, and other related resources: The Media Spot’s Voicethread tutorials & info page

Digital List Poetry

As part of a poetry unit, students create lines of poetry through free writing in response to a teacher-selected poem with a specific theme (e.g. “Nature”). On the class blog, the teacher posts the original poem (e.g. There was a Child Went Forth, by Walt Whitman) and the assignment directions. In response to the original blog post, each student’s favorite five lines are added as five separate “comments”, resulting in a “list poem” with infinite lines of poetry allowing for unpredictable connections to the selected theme. This project can be opened up as a “multimedia pen pal” activity as well.

As a follow-up exercise to demonstrate the editing process in media production, classes create multiple poems by selecting and resequencing favorite lines from their “list poem”. These poems can be published to the blog as individual student posts, illustrated with embedded images, or turned into videos (see “video poetry“) to be posted to the blog.

Media education lessons: emphasizes awareness of how the meaning of a line (or any element of a production) can change through its relationship to other lines when editing; discuss the results of collaborative production through social networking — what was under an author’s control, and what does one give up control of in this medium?

Curriculum support: literacy; poetry writing, emphasizing the importance of sequence and tone; diction practice

Technology integration: typing practice; Internet publishing; blogs/social networking

TMS production examples: PS 124 list poetry

video poetry

Youth adapt written poetry into a multimedia presentation using digital video and/or still images downloaded from the Internet, recorded voices, and computer-based video editing software. Youth producers blend the rhythm of their reading voice with their editing style. Video shots or still images must be concise, and will affect the meaning of each author’s words. Youth video editors decide whether or not to include music, sound effects, transitions or other digital effects — decisions with great impact on the tone of each production.

Media education lessons: emphasizes awareness of the decision-making role of the director and editor in representing the written word using images and sound — each decision greatly affects the overall meaning of the words; approaching traditional literacy through video — a “way of knowing” 21st century students are comfortable with

Curriculum support: literacy and composition; diction; demonstration of poetry comprehension through interpretation of tone, theme, and meaning through each video

Technology integration: digital video production; Internet searching and publishing

TMS production examples: PS 124 video poetry

Digital Journal Writing

Basic blog use: youth create online journal entries related to subjects in their traditional curriculum, or to a specific assignment created for the blog (see “TV Turnoff Blog” example). Other youth and educators respond to the entries online using “comments”.

Media education lessons: demonstrates the “openness” of Internet publishing; demonstrates the interactivity of social networking; youth become aware of audiences outside of their learning environment

Curriculum support: literacy and composition; creates a history of youth writing that is easy to track and critique with “comments”

Technology integration: typing practice; Internet searching and publishing; blogs/social networking; web account and file management

TMS production examples: Heritage (CO) TV Turnoff Blog, PS 124 writer’s notebooks, PS 124 math notebooks

MultiMedia blog posts

An amalgamation of many production types from this page: students link digital images to blog posts to compliment their writing. Students can search the Internet for “fair use” images, or digitize (scan or photograph) original artwork and add the images to their posts. Multimedia blog posts can be printed and presented as handouts or bulletin board presentations which serve to promote their corresponding blog.

Students or educators can also add audio or video files to their posts (see: “Video Illustrations“). Multiple such postings could even be delivered as “podcasts” or “videocasts”.

Media education lessons: increased media literacy through analysis of how different media communicate and compliment each other; source validation for Internet research

Curriculum support: literacy and composition

Technology integration: typing practice; Internet searching and publishing; blogs/social networking; web account and file management

TMS production examples: 3rd grade cook book and video illustration, PS 124 African animal photos and captions

Multimedia Pen Pals & collaborative production

Students engage in blogging assignments in order to connect with other online schools to exchange journal writing, audio and video journals, and photos.

With coordination and funding, a wonderful culminating activity is to have the two groups come together to collaborate on an on-location video production (see example below).

Media education lessons: awareness of Internet authorship and social networking; encourage students to establish a voice in the media environment beyond the classroom, and by writing for an audience that is distinctly different from them; awareness of representation in media by analysis of students’ own representations of themselves, and the expected audience interpretation

Curriculum support: literacy and composition

Technology integration: typing practice; Internet publishing; blogs/social networking; web account and file management

TMS production examples: Atlanta/Bronx collaborative on-location video, PS 124 (NY) 4th graders post video for Forehill Primary School in Scotland (UK)

The Remake (deconstruction/reconstruction)

Students remake a portion of a favorite film or video production using video cameras and video editing software. Students learn the craft of filmmaking by deconstructing the existing media into lines of narration, dialogue, music, number and type of shots (wide, mid, close-ups) and camera movements (zooms, pans, tilts), then recreating the necessary media and rebuilding the movie themselves making changes to the original if they decide to.

Media education lessons: media literacy through critical analysis of film or video, identifying and questioning the decisions a professional producer made; awareness of decision-making processes inherent to video/film production through participation in production generally, and specifically having to make changes to the original scene due to different locations, actors etc. — it will always be a new, and original piece, even if it’s a remake

Curriculum support: literacy practice through transcription and rewriting of dialogue and narration

Technology integration: digital video production

TMS production examples: GSS remakes a chase scene from Collateral (link coming soon)

Video Illustrations

Students create short videos (3-6 “shots”) to illustrate written points made on their blogs. Students isolate a point in a written blog post and adapt it to video using storyboards, then produce the video in class. This is a great way to introduce adaptation of writing to a video script, the video production process, and publishing a video to the Internet in a few class periods.

Media education lessons: media literacy through side-by-side analysis of how written language and video communicate differently; supports critical analysis of media by encouraging students to produce their videos in a way that strengthen’s points in their writing using the language of video; increases awareness of decision-making processes in video/film production

Curriculum support: literacy and composition

Technology integration: typing practice; digital video production; Internet publishing; blogs/social networking

TMS production examples: PS 124 Video Illustration to Persuasive Blog Post, PS 124 cook book and video illustration

Show and Tell (“How-To” Blog Posts and Videos)

An extention of a traditional “how-to” writing unit where students study a process and write a step-by-step narrative script. Students sketch storyboards to decide how to best represent each step visually, then shoot video demonstrations of each step and place them in sequence in a video editing program, recording their how-to script as narration, and possibly adding music, effects and titles. The video can be posted to a blog along with the written how-to steps, and links to related instructional resources.

As an optional activity, students can measure the effectiveness of the written how-to piece versus the video representation by having two groups race through the described process — one group using the written piece, the other using the video. Time the two groups and check the quality of the results. Then ask what was difficult to understand, and more/less clear in each.

Media education lessons: media literacy through critical analysis of visual communication vs spoken/written words

Curriculum support: literacy and composition; diction

Technology integration: typing; digital video production; Internet use; blogs/social networking

TMS production examples: PS124 Making Guacamole (Password: mole)

Book Trailers

Students create video “trailers” (a.k.a. previews) for books they are reading to “sell” them to prospective readers. Students deconstruct various types of movie trailers through streaming online resources like Apple’s Movie Trailer page. In a style that fits their book, students script and storyboard narration and a sequence of shots or images that presents a synopsis of the book, along with persuasive language and tactics aimed at “hooking” a target audience. Students record narration, film scenes, and produce a trailer for their book.

The video could include interviews with students and teachers about their favorite parts of the book, reenactments of scenes, passionate readings of selected passages, and so on.

Media education opportunities: media literacy through connecting a student of the digital age’s “way of knowing” (video) to the traditional demonstration of reading comprehension (a book report), and persuasive writing; increases awareness of decision-making processes in video/film production; supports critical analysis of media by consciously using that decision-making process for the students’ own purpose

Curriculum support: literacy and composition; persuasive writing; reading comprehension; diction

Technology integration: digital video production

TMS production examples: PS 124 blog notes, video script, and lessons for “The Giver” book trailer


Web Scavenger Hunt & ad Analysis

Teachers publish, print or project specific web pages for students to deconstruct: distinguishing between ads and content related to the “main idea” of the page; identifying the main idea of the page, and listing what products or websites are being advertised. Optionally, the teacher could post the web pages to the blog, and students could reply by leaving “comments”. A related activity can focus on analysis of online advertisements, outlining elements of tone, target audience, the product being sold, and their effectiveness. Also try analyzing the effectiveness of different online ads.

Teaching opportunities: Designed to teach critical analysis of media, support efficient web-browsing skills, responsible Internet use, and note-taking. Also provides typing practice.

Examples: More coming from TMS in 2007-2008!, 5th grade Kwanzaa Scavenger Hunt on PS124 Blog

Other Resources: Ad Analysis lesson plan from Suite 101

many stories, one source

(multimedia essays, adding multimedia to writing?, television news ACOM)

video news release

(vnr organizer, violence, cs211 vnr)

web design

Students discuss the layout and design of their class blogs, and make decisions about what theme is appropriate for their blog, and how information should be prioritized for their audience; Select “Tech Team” members will also work with TMS and the school librarian to design custom graphics on the computer to be integrated into the DOE-provided PS124 website.

Teaching opportunities: Designed to support critical analysis of visual media in a web-based environment.

in-blog web sites

Teaching opportunities:

Examples: 3rd grade cook book and video illustration, 3rd grade African travel brochure

historical photographs

video effects


documentary video production (on-location)

scenario 1: collaborative documentary * students decide what activities are worth sharing with their audience, and what type of shots they will shoot to capture those activities
* students are exposed to the basics of video production, working with a professional editor to present their work to the camp each day
scenario 2: narrative video production * plan, script, storyboard and produce a video with small groups within a camp setting scenario 3: TGC camp/Afterschool Editing * We could alter The Generation Connection’s camp theme and model for The Media Spot in New York by getting retired filmmakers (or just senior ones that are still producing) to collaborate with high school kids on productions that are shot all over the region! * Tying in the “Generation Connection” would add another dimension or theme to the productions, no matter how subtly it’s played up in the videos – these things are all about the process, anyway. * The “camp” aspect would be the filming, the afterschool program would give us the time to edit with kids that we haven’t been able to fit into the TGC week.

Teaching opportunities:

Examples: The Generation Connection “Clips of the Day”, Middle School Pen Pal Collaborative On-location Video, Middle school documentary production,

TMS Collaborative Afterschool Production

* students (high school age) work with educators from TMS to learn the basics of video production, then collaborate with volunteers from the Film and Media community to produce a broadcast quality production targeting film festivals, or public television
* students work within a TMS designed framework to generate subject matter to communicate their ideas and experiences to a broad audience beyond their immediate community * designed to put students in an “apprentice” role with TMS, while spending time in the field with top professionals as creative equals; students are in control of content and are creating a voice for themselves in the dominant media of their generation
* Read more: TMS Afterschool Program


By The Media Spot

The Media Spot collaborates with educators to integrate media literacy education into a variety of learning environments.