1-Minute Biography Activity by Matt Vargyas

This blog post is a guest entry by Matt Vargyas, a technology educator at ER Middle School. Matt is a Google Level 2 Educator and holds a BA in English from UCSB and MAT from the University of Redlands. He has presented at local CUE conferences related to various adaptive classroom applications.

Spark Video, Adobe’s update from the former, Adobe Voice. A simple to use iPad application, now available through a web browser. Spark Video is a game changer in mobile device classrooms. Its easy-to-use interface, aligned with various customizable options like Creative Commons search, themes, fonts, music, and narration contributes to creating an engaging and high-quality video in just minutes. As an educational tool, Spark Video promotes learner fluency, technology, creativity, and individualizes instruction. It allows students to explore new and engaging ways of presenting information by using their unique voice to tell compelling stories. So, what is the One Minute Biography Activity?

At its core, the One Minute Biography Activity is designed as a way to connect learners to course content using technology by authenticating and transferring background knowledge on the desired subject. Learners are given a list of project goals related to a historical or current person that has made profound contributions to the subject area students are studying. They will create a video of the individual in only one minute. Why one minute? It’s a comfortable time frame for them to achieve and teaches learners to be concise and to the point with their data. Moreover, it’s easy for a teacher to share videos and grade them because they are short. Afterall, grading five-minute videos for an initial assignment can be overkill.

Suggestions for practice and implementation

1. First, have your learners get acquainted with Adobe Video. It’s easy and user-friendly. YouTube has many “how to” videos. Check out this video:

2. Assign learners an important figure that has contributed to the content area you are studying. It can be current or historical—the broader, the better. Provide learners with a list of figures to choose from as an option, but you may get repeat selections, so using a randomizer and assigning them may provide to be a more fluid strategy.

3. Give students specific requirements. Here are some suggestions for them to include regarding their figure: an introduction on the individual, birthdate, childhood facts (2-4), family, education (if any), contributions to the subject area (have them list 3-5), the impact of their contributions to society (2-4), and conclusion.

4. Learner videos can only be a maximum of 1-minute. Remind them to try and reach that goal. Please note that getting to exactly one minute is hard, so most will be in the 0.55-1:04 range, which is suitable.

5. Encourage learners to use photos for their slides that connect to their narration. Photos must have a figurative or literal connection to the narration and individual. Use Creative Commons in the Adobe Video application. It automatically cites sources for the learners and they don’t need to leave the app!

6. Encourage learners to narrate in a quiet place. Background noise can be distracting for viewers. It’s easy to re-record, so promoting this strategy is a plus. My rubrics containing narration have a category just for this, and students are marked down if background noise impedes the listening and viewing process.

7. Have learners choose music that is befitting to the video subject. The wrong music promotes a mood and tone that is inconsistent with the overall message of the video.  This is a major distraction for viewers.  Yes, mood and tone are a Common Core Reading Standard.

8. When a rough draft is complete, have learners undergo peer feedback. Because the video is only 1-minute, have at least three peers review the video. Provide feedback expectations for peer reviews.

9. When all learner finish, have them share their video via the Adobe Video link option. This can be done via an LMS (Edmodo, Blackboard, or Google Classroom), social media or email.

This concludes the One Minute Biography Activity with Adobe Video. Please adapt and modify to your liking. And if you have any modifications or recommendations, please comment below.