It is easy to forget how important is to count on our students’ opinions, interests and abilities when it comes to teaching. Usually it is an easy and effective way to achieve your academic targets while you are doing something your students love. Keeping teenagers engaged on a task is not always easy, and projects or activities that has worked in the past would not necessarily work today, but they worth at least a try.
In this specific case, when I arrived to Baku in 2016 I have found that out of my students where fascinated by a YouTube channel called “Geography Now”, where its host was basically presenting the main facts of all the countries of the world in alphabetical order. Here’s an example:
When I was programming for Geography in KS3 I realised the three academic years ended with a topic about different regions and countries of the world, so I decided to take advantage on it and ask my students to record a video about different countries following the style of Geography Now. To add some extra interest to the task, I contacted Paul Barbado, the YouTuber responsible for the channel, and I asked him to be the judge of my students work. He loved the idea and he promised us he would post something about the project on his social media.
To help my students to achieve a good results and are the project worthy, I divided the activity in two parts:
The first one was dedicated to write a script for the video. In coordination with the English department, the students found ad curate the information and wrote the script taking in consideration the sections all the videos should have: introduction, flag, physical Geography, demographics, political geography and “friend zone” (international relationships of the given country). I also wrote a rubric regarding the quality and accuracy of the information, the way it was written, etc. I found rubrics more and more efficient when it comes to help our students to understand what they are expected to do.
The second one was recording the video: the school was willing to give me some extra rooms and spaces to keep the students working in all groups and we decided to use phones, iPads and computers (devices the students know how to use) to record their parts. For editing, I allowed the groups to decide which software they prefer, since some of the students were already quite skilled in some of them, but I suggested to those of them who never had done something like that before to use Kizoa, an online software that is very intuitive and simple, and you can use for free.
The final stage of the videos was having the kids in the schools assembly hall presenting their videos to their partners and receiving the verdict from Geography Now YouTube channel host, Paul Barbado, who chose the following video as the winner:
It is important, nowadays, to take in consideration our students ways of expression. We will find they could be extremely useful.