The Most Epic Group Project Ever

Often times we don’t give kids enough credit. We think they’re too young or too squirrely. Luckily, at Lyon Elementary School in Glenview, Illinois, they know better.

They decided to bring the entire 2nd grade class  (we’re talking 160-some kids!) to create one of the most epic group projects ever: this video.

It all started with a fairly simple idea. They happen to have a pretty awesome technology facilitator at Lyon Elementary named Alison Keller, who knew video would be a cool outlet for these little guys. Each year the PTA at Lyon has a budget for “cultural arts” experiences for the kids. Keller said in the past they used to do assemblies, but in recent years, they’ve tried to do more in-depth “artist in residence” activities.

“This year when we were brainstorming ideas for what kind of arts experience we wanted the kids to have,  video came up.  Because I know Tim, and his awesome work, I suggested we reach out to him and have him come do some workshops with our second graders. Then it sort of grew from there,” Keller said.

Yep, you guessed it, she’s talking about Big Foot Media’s very own Tim Whalen. Whalen, of course, LOVED the idea and despite not having much of a background in elementary education, he was 100% on board.

Once Keller and the rest of the gang at Lyon decided on video as their medium, they decided on a focus. They knew they wanted to push their students to think differently about the place they live by using their “smarts” as a lense to see the town they live in.

Tim loved the idea, and was able to give them this example video to get the creative juices flowing.

The Equally Epic Process

From there, Tim, with the help and guidance of Alison, created a curriculum plan which consisted of 5 hands-on classes that covered concepts about composition, storytelling and messaging. Each session was 60 minutes and they did 2 back-to-back lessons. You know you’ve really got kids into something if they sit through 120 minutes of lessons!

Each day Tim would work with the kids, he’d teach them a lesson, have them interact in a hands-on project and then do a review with them. The staff at Lyon Elementary was hugely helpful in this process and were with Tim every step of the way.

The kids were in an integral part of writing the script. Keller and teachers drew from the kids’ input about their own talents and about what makes their town so stinkin’ cool. Then, as if it hadn’t reached its cool capacity, the kids shot ALL of the videos themselves!

“Each kid submitted 5 video clips, so that made for a PILE of video.  They were given instructions of what kinds of videos to upload, how to name them and how to upload to vimeo from their iPads. From there Alison collected them and made sure each kid had submitted videos then passed them on to me,” Whalen explained.

From there, he edited the 800-some files together to create the final project.

The Epic Outcome

Luckily, the results extended beyond just a ridiculously adorable video. Tim wanted to make this an experience they could take beyond 2nd grade.

Second graders at Lyon Elementary School in Glenview, Illinois watch the video they helped create for the first time.

Lyon’s second graders get to view their work on the big screen for the first time.

“I wanted to show them that first, this was a real job that they could do when they grow up. Second, whether they chose this path or not, expose them to technology and the process since video is becoming a huge part of the world in every aspect, no matter how small. And last, at least teach them how to frame things properly,” Whalen said.

Keller said she’s literally heard 2nd graders talking about the rule of thirds, close ups and wide shots! Keller agreed that one of the goals was to give them life long skills that make them better photographers and videographers, but also to learn another media that they can communicate with.

“A big part of it was knowing that each of us has certain strengths or “smarts” and that they help us see our world in different ways.  Video is a way to capture that and share their way of seeing,” Keller said.

The kids weren’t the only ones learning. Tim said he learned just as much from the students.

“It’s just amazing what kids can absorb – I didn’t even learn the rule of thirds until college. These kids picked up on the concept and ran with it, producing some awesome video clips and showing me you’re never too young to learn about video,” Whalen said.


– Warm fuzzies? Check. – JS

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