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Persuasive Essays with Video Illustrations – Unit Plan

December 6, 2007

Class 3-206 will be creating persuasive video illustrations that they will publish to the 3rd grade blog along with their persuasive writing.

Each student will follow the following steps to adapt sections of their writing into visual presentations using images from the Internet, recorded narration, and iMovie effects.

We will be posting comments to this post to keep track of how long each step takes, and what we learn through this process.


  1. Writing Selection: students complete persuasive writing essays and select passages to adapt into their video
  2. Storyboarding/Adaptation: students imagine what photos would help them persuade — focus on adaptation; what type of images compliment persuasive language (i.e. close ups of details, bright colors, ‘happy/sad-looking’ pictures…etc.)
  3. Internet/iPhoto collecting images: image search in and saving into iPhoto — focus on understanding that they are borrowing other people’s work through the Internet with their permission


  1. iMovie: narration recording — focus on diction, fluency, and feeling
  2. iMovie: adding images to the narration — focus on pace of images complimenting the pace of reading


  1. iMovie: adding transitions, titles, and music — focus on how these elements add or take away from the clarity of the main ideas and persuasiveness
  2. iMovie: export to a Quicktime movie file — a final draft
  3. Web Publishing: (teacher) post Quicktime file to the school website — focus on how this type of publishing is different from writing, bulletin boards, screening in the school, etc.
12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2007 7:07 pm

    Class Meeting 1
    In our first meeting, we created the following blog post as a group from the kids works in progress. We typed up their “skeletons” as students described them to us, then brainstormed with the class about what type of images would best support their persuasive “reasons” and “examples”.

    We demonstrated how to search for images using Creative Commons*, a search engine that provides images from authors who give us permission to use them, and link them to a blog post as well.

    Here is the link: Creating a Video Script (on the 3rd grade blog)

    *NOTE: It seems like Creative Commons (CC) is a little trickier for 3rd graders to figure out than a straight search on Google Images.

    CC ads the extra step of choosing a search engine WITHIN CCs search engine. The point is that CC has the option to filter the search results for images that the photographer or creator gives permission to use in derivative works. By introducing kids to CC, we are introducing the idea that work that’s easy to grab from the Internet still belongs to someone. If they are aware of CC and why it’s there, and are encouraged to use it in the future, it is reinforcing responsible Internet use — which is a core national technology standard.

    When kids get stumped in CC (the filter will mean limited results in some cases), we have been sending them to Google quickly. As long as the kids (and you, the teacher) are aware of the copyright issue and that CC exists, we’re covered. To read more about our copyright concerns as educators, check out this blog post on The Media Spot.

  2. January 15, 2008 2:39 pm

    Class Meetings 2 and 3

    Following our first meeting, the class continued working on their essays. I’ve visited twice since.

    Students are at different places in their writing. All of the students have enough of an outline to search for images that support the major persuasive points in their writing.

    We are using the search activity to help them be more specific with their key persuasive points. For example, one student wants to persuade her parents to create a space for her to study at home. She first downloaded an image of a bedroom showing a bed and a TV. This was a teaching opportunity to show her how an image can strengthen or take away from a written argument, and how an image has information in it to be read by an audience. We talked with her about how it was confusing to the audience to see a bed and TV, when she is asking for a place to study. What does she want? She refined her search to look for images of a more appropriate space for doing homework.

    As students collected their 3 images, the created a folder on the desktop to store them, then dragged them directly into iPhoto. Once in iPhoto, the images will be retrievable in iMovie.

    In our next meeting, some students will work on finishing their writing, while student who are finished will start recording their narration in iMovie.

  3. January 15, 2008 4:01 pm

    Class Meeting 4
    During todays meeting we decided that we would open up the students search to more than 3 images.

    This will allow for the full essay to be read in the iMovie production. One thing we don’t want to happen is having “fluffy” photos that do not strongly support the student’s arguments, or add new persuasive info to them.

    For example, one student wrote a great essay about why she should have more cats. There is potential for her to create a powerful photo essay that accompanies this personal piece of writing. The worst case, is that she would gather 20 cute cat photos that do not connect to the points in her writing. In that case, the cuteness of the cats might distract from the power of her words.

    What we decided is to have her create a list of shots (photos) that would help her make her point. She drew storyboards in class of what those shots might look like, and she is going to take digital photos at home, and use those in her iMovie.

    The bottom line is that we do not want to make a video for the sake of technology practice alone — we want to use the experience to connect to the process of communicating and literacy. We want students to see that images can be put together to tell stories — they have information within them. Combine with words they tell a new story. We want that new story to demonstrate the power of multimedia, and compare it to the power of words alone. There is also potential of visual learners to better understand the process of making meaning with words (sequence, structure, detail, etc.) through the experience of connecting digital storytelling with the writing process.

  4. January 15, 2008 4:06 pm

    Next Steps:
    * finish typing essays
    * search for, or shoot digital photos connected to each persuasive point in the essays (usually a group of 3 sentences or so — could be as simple as 1 per paragraph, or as complex as one per sentence)
    * drag or import those photos into iPhoto
    * record narration in iMovie — students read whole essays aloud
    * match images to narration in an iMovie timeline
    * add titles, transitions, and music to the iMovie timeline
    * screen the videos as a class and rate them with a rubric

    Ms. Abodeely: you and I should sit down with an existing persuasive essay rubric and add a few video components to rate.

  5. Ms. Abodeely permalink
    January 22, 2008 4:11 pm

    Mr. Rhys — I think it is a good idea to include the students in the creation of the rubric. This way, it will ensure that the students know what we expect from them (in technology or otherwise). I think the imovies are turning out to be another form support for their theses. Some the images they found are very powerful. Thanks for all your help.

  6. January 22, 2008 9:03 pm

    Great! I added “…create a rubric” to our “next steps” below. We’ll model all of the iMovie steps tomorrow with one student’s collected images and writing, then turn them loose to finish the job with our assistance on the laptops/desktops.

    Next Steps:
    * finish typing essays
    * search for, or shoot digital photos connected to each persuasive point in the essays (usually a group of 3 sentences or so — could be as simple as 1 per paragraph, or as complex as one per sentence)
    * drag or import those photos into iPhoto
    * record narration in iMovie — students read whole essays aloud
    * match images to narration in an iMovie timeline
    * add titles, transitions, and music to the iMovie timeline
    * watch the first completed videos and create a rubric for evaluating them
    * screen the videos as a class and rate them with the rubric

  7. Ms. Martinez permalink*
    February 2, 2008 1:40 am

    Dear Colleagues,

    I am very proud of the work you are doing with our students to prepare them for the world they will inherit. I had a dream two years ago that we could accomplish this and you did!

  8. February 12, 2008 4:06 pm

    For our next 2 class meetings we will be finishing student productions as a class using the projector. We will collect projects from the desktops using the LaCie firewire drive then show them on a laptop connected to the projector. We will rotate through the other laptops that students worked on directly, connecting them to the projector one at a time and finishing off their video presentations.

    We will create a rubric for evaluating the videos that will resemble a persuasive essay rubric.

    What we’ve noticed is that kids are working at very different speeds. It is difficult to keep all of the students moving at a consistent pace. Some students were able to complete the basic 3-shot movie in 2 class periods, and needed to be introduced to more advanced production techniques in iMovie. Others needed to be walked through downloading images several times, and did not seem to be able to independently connect their writing with their images in iMovie. They could follow the tasks during demonstrations, and were able to do them when working with us, but when left alone, some could not keep the project developing. Through the group editing exercise tomorrow, we will assess further the level of understanding across the group of what we’re doing, and pinpoint what the obstacles were for the kids who struggled with this (if they are technical, or just focus issues).

  9. Ms. Abodeely, 3-206 permalink
    February 13, 2008 6:35 pm

    Today we talked about what makes a good iMovie, and posted our iMovie reflection handout on the third grade blog:

    We didn’t get to review the videos today, we needed the reflection criteria. Next week we will watch the videos and use the handout to reflect.

  10. February 26, 2008 3:53 pm

    Ms. Abodeely,
    Marc and Diana’s videos were moved from their desktops to laptop 17.

  11. Ms. Abodeely, 3-206 permalink
    February 26, 2008 3:55 pm

    Reflections on Hanna’s movie today:
    * It took the kids a long time to write them, but they wrote some very thoughtful reflections.
    * Comments were on the tone of the reading, suggestions for transitions, and music suggestions
    * I posted them to my bulletin board along with screen shots of the iMovie computer screen


  1. Persuasive Essay, iMovie, and Reflection « PS 124 Staff Blog

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