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Jun 6, 2022

Four Ways to Use Video to Improve Students' Writing

Olivia Nelson
PD Specialist

Many educators are wrapping up the final days or weeks of the school year, but it’s never too late to help students flex their writing muscles. Whether it’s an end-of-year assignment or part of a summer work packet, there is still plenty of time and there are still plenty of ways for students to work on their writing skills with the help of video! 

Different kinds of writing 📖

When we teach writing, we usually separate the types of writing into three writing categories: narrative, informational, and opinion.

Narrative writing refers, most often, to fictional pieces of written work. From elementary school through high school, students learn to develop characters in their stories, carefully exploring character traits through descriptive language and dialogue. They build internal and external conflicts for these characters and create resolutions that teach a lesson or demonstrate a greater meaning. 

Informational writing, on the other hand, asks students to draw conclusions based on facts. Throughout their school years, students learn to conduct research, evaluate information sources, and put together paragraphs with relevant evidence and supporting details.

Finally, students use some of the same skills they honed in informational writing to write opinion pieces; they develop their own thoughts and support them with evidence from multiple sources, written and otherwise. 

Video as a writing tool ✍️

As writing teachers, we provide scaffolds for our students as they develop their writing muscles and get comfortable crafting their work. We use graphic organizers and drafting processes to make sure students feel supported throughout. 

Whether you are working with struggling writers or young authors, video is another incredible tool to help students in the quest to become great writers.

Telling a story before writing a story 🚀

If students are working on narrative writing, they can use video as a tool to help them create strong stories.

Have students record themselves verbally telling a story first. They can use just the basic webcam recording, or plan their story out using Google Slides and talk through it with a screen recording. Either way, students will be able to go back and replay their video during the writing process. They can always pause the video and rewind it; this makes it easy to fix mistakes and to make sure they have all the important details. 

BONUS: Students can use the editor to cut the video in places where a detail was missing or some more description might be helpful.

Video journaling 📓

Journaling can be a great way to build students’ expressive muscles. Students can journal about what they learn in school–reflecting on their favorite parts or challenging moments in a particular lesson or unit–or they can journal about their own lived experiences, like what they did on the weekend or over the summer. 

Regardless of what kind of journaling your students are doing, they can always do it via video. Simply open Screencastify and record a webcam video! Make sure that you establish a time limit for the videos, because once the students start talking it can be hard for them to stop!

Creating a video outline 🤔

When we teach students informational and opinion-based writing, one of the most important associated skills is the ability to create an outline. A good outline helps the writer organize their thoughts and, in opinion pieces, persuade a reader.

As students begin to formulate their outline, video can help! Have students record each topic sentence and each key detail as a separate video. In the editor, they can organize their thoughts before putting pen to paper and writing them down. 

Leave it up to the students 🙋

Student writing quality is not directly dependent on whether they use video or not. Instead, video provides an avenue to create student choice. By giving students the option to create video, we allow them to take ownership of their learning and express their voices in ways that feel comfortable to them. 

Have a specific idea for using video in writing, share it with us on Twitter @Screencastify!

Olivia Nelson
PD Specialist

Former elementary school teacher helping educators use video to enhance the learning experience.