How to Plan a Memorable Parent Night: Classroom Videos

Call it “Open House” or “Parent Night”, this one evening greatly influences the relationships you will have with parents.

Last year, I posted on how to get parents involved in Parent Night. Parent involvement keeps the night active. But, at the end of the night, parents want to see what their children are doing in school.

Videos

Videos help parents become a “fly on the wall”, watching their child’s typical school day. Below are two of the videos I used at this year’s Parent Night. (Note: Skips and gaps exist due to students being edited out of the videos. Parent permission was granted by all students represented in the videos below.)

Video Footage

Throughout the year, older students can have experience taking good pictures and gathering video footage. While establishing routines at the beginning of the year, it tends to be less hassle for you to take the video footage yourself. Also, a camera in the classroom works magic for classroom management.

Scripts

Ask students, “Why do we study music?”

Blank stares usually follow. As far as many students are concerned, school consists of a series of random activities or tasks that teachers plan. It’s interesting to ask students to address on their video the reasons they study what they study.

The next question for the students: “What do you think our parents want to know?” This leads into an authentic discussion of voice and audience.

Finally, students should address both what they do and what they learn. Most groups miss one or the other unless it is highlighted. Why do we play math games? For what purposes do we use computers in the various subject areas?

Students usually want to open iMovie right away. Help instill the idea that “Content is King” by requiring scripts be approved before any video clips are imported into the movie-making program.

Group script-writing can be tricky. While students can create scripts on Google docs, the system backfired this year. Google docs works better for asynchronous work. Consider having each team member write a draft script on paper, compare scripts, and combine the best of the best into one script. You might also have one team member type for 15 minutes, then pass the script to another team member so that each member gets 15 minutes to add to the initial draft.

The key question for students: Does your final script address all the questions a group of parents might have about what we do and learn?

Choosing Video Clips

Consider breaking the script into three or four parts so that each child team member can work on a proportional part of the video. Putting together four mini-videos is easier and more time-efficient than trying to have four people work on one computer.

You may have noticed that, in the videos above, some clips were used numerous times. Oddly, students had close to 100 clips to choose from as they matched their scripts to pictures.

If possible, leave one or two days for editing and revision of videos so that students can discuss ways to keep this from happening.

Edits and Revisions

Some things you will want students to note for edits/revisions:

  • Are any clips repeated? What other clips might fit?
  • Do the pictures match the words?
  • If you have music or sounds, do they fit the tone of the presentation?
  • Are there any embarrassing moments that should be clipped out (i.e. nose-picking and such)?
  • Do you see any hand-waves or other gestures that don’t match the purpose of the presentation?
  • Are any volume adjustments needed?
  • What do you think about the pace of the film?
  • Have you kept last names out of the credits?

Extras

Parent evaluation forms indicate that they appreciate the students’ videos more than anything else. They see their children happily learning.

As the year progresses, the class will become more adept at creating quality multimedia presentations. Keep videos like the ones above. Show them again at the end of the year. The class will be able to see how far it has come!

What do you show parents when they come?

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6 thoughts on “How to Plan a Memorable Parent Night: Classroom Videos

  1. That was a wonderful video. Your students are lovely–love the laptops. Are they typing as fast as they write in 5th grade? I’m curious because I tested my 5th graders (to motivate them with typing). I wonder if my results are typical.

    • Typingagent.com has really helped. Also, admin decided that setting time aside for tying in grades 3-4 was as important as setting time aside for handwriting in earlier grades.

      My highest student is now over 40 WPM with 98% accuracy. Lower level typists are at least over 10 WPM.

      MacBooks are 1:2 on carts in grades 3-4, 1:1 in grades 5-12.

      And, yes, they are lovely :).

    • Ah, shucks. Thanks!

      I love your book reviews. I’m moving to a more lower-elementary environment in January. I’d like to feature at least one picture book per week and I’m looking to you for guidance. Really :).

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