Last year I starting making movies with my class. My students created movies about idioms, social skills, rocks, and the water cycle. I posted those on the class wiki. They loved to watch those movies over and over again. They viewed those movies so much they had the lines memorized. Not just their lines, everyone's lines! Now, if I ask one of my students from last year what an idiom is, they remember, because they remember those movies. So, when I overheard an upper grade teacher grumbling in the staff lounge about the 7th graders still not knowing certain grammar skills, I started to wonder. If you want to have certain skills, facts, and vocabulary stored in students' minds, are student made movies one of the most effective ways to do that? Thus, my experiment.
An assessment taken after our geometry unit revealed the concepts and vocabulary that my students had not yet mastered. Some students still couldn't describe a parallelogram or a rhombus or the difference between a rhombus and a square. I could tell that some were still confused about right angles or pairs of parallel lines. I used the assessment data to determine which concept each student would be responsible for teaching others about in a skit that would be a part of our class geometry movie. I put students into pairs and wrote their assigned topic on an index card.
I introduced the idea of a geometry movie through the movies found on the Student Made Math Movies wiki. I gave the pairs this assignment and this scoring guide and they went to work. My students had already had experience writing scripts, so they were ready to write these without instruction. But if your student have not written scripts, you will want to teach them the genre by reading examples of scripts and using other scripts as models for their writing.
Students will be finishing up the movies this week. After the holiday break, my goal is to have the movie done and posted for them to view over and over again. After an extended period of time, I will give them the geometry assessment again. That will help me determine if my hypothesis has some truth, that student made movies DO help students keep facts, concepts and vocabulary in their long-term memory.