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Earth Editing: Increasing Environmental Awareness with Student Created Public Service Announcements

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Keywords: video, Public Service Announcement, writing, script, environment, environmental awareness, Flip Video, Tool Factory Movie Maker, video editing, earth, English, commercial, ad, advertisement, storyboard, PSA, Science, Earth day, Vodcasting
Subject(s): Speech and Language, Civics, Drama, Journalism, Science, English/Language Arts, Photography, Information Skills, Earth Science, Reading, Music, Writing, Podcasting, Technology, Social Skills, Video, Art
Grades 3 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: National Trail Middle School, New Paris, OH
Planned By: Heidi Perry
Original Author: Heidi Perry, New Paris
Time Span: 10 Classes; approx. 45 min. in length

Objective: Students create a Public Service Announcement video on issues concerning the environment, which will “air” on the school website and at an Earth Day Assembly. Each video will focus on a single strategy that students and community members can do to help protect our planet Earth.

Class 1 - 2: As a class, students will brainstorm environmental issues affecting Earth (i.e. air and water pollution, climate change/global warming, dwindling resources and over consumption of materials, acid rain, rain forest destruction and bio-depletion, hazardous waste, and overpopulation). In groups of three, students will choose an environmental issue to research, focusing on the following questions:
1) What is the issue and why is it important?
2) What are 5 ways students and local community members can help?
3) What are the oppositions to this issue, and how can they be addressed?
Each student in the group will choose one strategy to focus on for their Public Service Announcement (PSA).

Class 3: Before students write their PSA scripts, they will review and analyze popular PSAs in the media (see below for links) for common elements: short phrases that are repeated, catch phrases, images interspersed with spokespeople, facts and numbers, etc. As a class, students analyze what choices were made by the director about music, film color, font size and type, and background images to determine the persuasive effect on the viewer of these choices.

Class 4 - 6: Students will then create a storyboard for a 30 second PSA, which reflects similar style and directorial choices to the PSAs analyzed. Students can collaborate with those in their research group to have a common theme or catch phrase; however, each storyboard should be unique for the strategy chosen. In essence, they can create three PSAs for a single campaign/organization: while they might be similar in theme, organization and some content, each PSA is different.

After the PSA storyboards are written, students will peer-conference with students working on different environmental issues to gain feedback and improve their PSA. Students will also create the script for each “actor” in their PSA. Students will decide on roles of director, actor, set designer for each PSA and what is needed to be set up for ‘the shoot’.

Class 7: “The Big Shoot” Students use Flip Video Cameras to shoot each scene they need for their PSA.

Class 8 - 9: Students will use Tool Factory Movie Maker to edit their PSA and create any extra content needed for their video. Students should incorporate music, transitions, text, and special effects to create a similar tone to the PSAs they analyzed. Students will peer conference again before calling it a wrap.

Class 10: “Press Play for Planet Earth” (Earth Day) Assembly. The PSA stars and producers will walk the Green Carpet before their PSA video is previewed by the school and ‘released’ on the school website.

Lesson is aligned to the following Ohio State Curriculum Content Standards:
Ohio English Language Arts Content Standards:
K12 Research Standard: Students define and investigate self-selected or assigned issues, topics, and problems. They locate, select, and make use of relevant information from a variety of media, reference and technological sources. Students use an appropriate form to communicate their findings.
Grades 5-7: Use persuasive strategies, including establishing a clear position in support of a proposition or a proposal with organized and relevant evidence.
Grades 8-10:Write a persuasive piece that states a clear position, includes relevant information and offers compelling evidence in the form of facts and details.
Ohio Science Standards (2004):
Earth and Space Science: Grades 3-5 C. Describe Earth’s resources including rock, soil, water, air, animals and plants and the ways in which they can be conserved.
Earth and Space Science: Grades 6-8 E. Describe the processes that contribute to the continuous changing of Earth’s surface.
Earth and Space Science: Grades 9-10 D. Describe the finite nature of Earth’s resources and those human activities that can conserve or deplete Earth’s resources.
Ohio Science Standards and Content Statements (2010):
Grade 3: Earth’s Resources: Earth’s resources can be used for energy. Some of Earth’s resources are limited.
Grade 6: Rocks, Minerals, and Soil: Rocks, minerals and soils have common and practical uses.
Grade 7: Cycles of Matter and Flow of Energy: In any particular biome, the number, growth and survival of organisms and populations depend on biotic and abiotic factors.

The preference is for Flip Video Cameras and Tool Factory Movie Maker; however other video capturing tools and video editing software can be used.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Math - In the PSA, students will need to have graphs and charts representing statistical facts. Elapsed time problems can be discussed and applied as students work with editing their video.
Students will write a Letter to the Editor of a local newspaper regarding the environmental issue and actions that students and community members can take. This can lead to a podcast/vodcast by students on environmental issues, as well as social injustices and other PSA content.
Links: "Link to PSA - The Cove"
"Link to PSA - If I Close My Eyes"
"Link to PSA - ONE by ONE"
"Link to PSA - Hunger Banquet"
"Link to PSA - Click 2010 Make Poverty History"
Materials: Sound Libraries, Video Tools, Clip Art, Headsets, Batteries, Tripods, Camera Bags, Flip Video, Mobile Labs