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April 4, 2011 Behind the Scenes, Part 5 — Editing and Publishing Your Movie By Megan Power

    “Edit and revise.” Do these words make your students cringe during writing time? Giving your students the opportunity to edit a movie is an exciting and relevant way to teach students the importance of these writing steps. Read on to see how even kindergartners can edit their movie and translate this important understanding to their writing.


    Your movie is starting to take shape now. With the help of my series, Behind the Scenes, you have chosen a topic, storyboarded your movie, and filmed clips. The last and very important step is to edit the movie. Many times this step is taken over by the teacher, but it's an effective way to teach students to edit their work. So hand over the computer and guide your students to take responsibility for the editing phase. You will not be sorry to see all the learning that occurs.


    Why Edit?

    When beginning the editing phase we usually start with discussing WHY. Why do we need to edit our movie?

    For our movie we have 445 video clips and 500 still photos. If we were to use all of the footage without fixing it up, the movie would be long, repetitive, and uninteresting. During editing, students will sequence the clips, get rid of excess footage, insert titles and other effects, and add music to make viewers feel the emotion desired. We also need to revisit the rubric that we made earlier in the project to help guide us to completing our movie successfully.

    Students Do the Work

    My young students were amazed at how easy it is to edit. They have figured out how, with several clicks, to choose the best clip, shorten it to get rid of excess footage, and add titles, transitions, and music. Students also learned how to crop a video clip, scale it to the correct size, and then chroma key the green screen away so the actors are shown in the correct setting. By doing this editing and seeing the result, students really grasp the importance of the editing and revising steps.

    Here are a few of the important skills students learn from being involved in the editing process:

    Narrowing Down to the Important and Relevant Details

    As a 2nd grade teacher, I worked hard with my students on getting rid of sentences in their writing that did not fit or confused the readers: they had a very difficult time grasping that abstract concept. It is amazing to see my young students evaluating what lines are important and what are repetitive or confusing. Students have cut several lines because we have to adhere to a time frame and they felt the lines were not vital to the message being delivered.

    For instance, there was a clip that had a student saying, “I wonder how big it’s gotten?” right after the other students say, “Wow, look how big it’s gotten.” The students quickly noticed that they did not need the extra line because “they just said it in the clip before.”

    Sequencing and Organizing Writing so It Makes Sense

    One of our kindergarten reading standards focuses on sequencing a story. By taking my students through this whole process of writing, filming (many times out of order), and editing, my students have become experts at sequencing. The other day a group was editing their section of the movie, and they realized that one clip was out of order. One little girl said, “Wait a minute. That doesn’t make sense. Cole says to look at the tree and then it goes to a tree fact before the rest of the group reacted to what Cole said.” They quickly fixed the sequence.

    Going Back and Rereading Your Work

    I know this is typically a difficult activity to get students to do effectively. When asked to go back and reread their own writing, students often reread it without truly evaluating their writing and fixing it. When editing their movie, students are completely engaged. They go back and review each clip and edit it many times all on their own. There is something about editing movies that motivates students.

    Selecting Music Teaches Students About the Tone, Feeling, and Message

    The other day we began talking about the music we wanted in our movie. We briefly talked about the difference between liking music and selecting the best music to fit our movie. They became very engaged and deeply evaluated all the types of music we listened to and articulated the best uses for the different types of music. We transferred this thinking to their writing when they used the flow of their words as they had used the music, to assist their readers in feeling the desired emotion.

    Adding Titles, Animation, Sound Effects, and Other Details to Clarify Your Movie for an Audience

    This is another great connection to students' writing. It is important for students to go back and add small details so their readers can understand the purpose of their writing without the author sitting there explaining it.


    Now that you have completed your movie, you’re ready to publish it. Here are a few ways to get your movie out there for others to view and learn from:

    • Hold your own movie premiere night with families
    • Get permission and publish it on YouTube or another video hosting site
    • Submit it to a student filmmaking award
    • Share the movie with other classes at your school
    • See if your local TV company will play your video on one of their channels
    • Rent out a movie theater to play student films

    And that’s a wrap! I hope this five-part series on filmmaking has given you more confidence to start or continue making student films. As always, I welcome any comments or questions and would love to hear about filming in your classroom. So please leave a comment!


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Susan Cheyney