Course 5 Final Project, 1.5 years later

A year and a half has passed since I finished my last COETAIL project, a student created video dictionary. Even though our students made more than 100 videos for the dictionary, I saw it as just a beginning with the potential to grow into something greater. Since May of 2014, when I last wrote about the project, it has evolved in a few ways:

Small Group Study Guide

To help students learn new words, they were given a study packet to go with the dictionary.

To help students learn new words, they were given a study packet to go with the dictionary.

When my new third grade class started in the Autumn of 2014, we occasionally referenced the dictionary when its words came up. We didn’t really utilize the dictionary until November, however, after 3-way conferences, when several students set a goal to increase their vocabularies. I put together a three week self-study packet, based on some words in the dictionary, and the students worked their way through it. I can go into the details of this in a future post, but I knew it was a success when the students started regularly using the words in their writing and speech.

Whole Class Study Guide
After the small group was successful, I had the rest of my class try the self-study packet. While they did this, the group who already finished started to make their own videos.

More Videos
Having already watched 30+ videos, the new students had a strong sense of what made a high-quality video, and they were able to quickly create their own. Here are a few of the first ones they made.



After updating the script, we got the other 3rd grade class as well as some 4th graders involved, co-constructed success criteria, and are currently sitting at 150+ videos in the dictionary. Eventually we can move to a different website (our google-site url is quite unwieldy).

Third and fourth graders co-constructed success criteria on what makes a high quality vocabulary video.

Third and fourth graders co-constructed success criteria on what makes a high quality vocabulary video.

New YouTube Channel
One annoyance of the first group of videos was uploading them to my teacher YouTube account and having to log in each time a student wanted to publish. To make this step easier, I made a new YouTube channel (with a shared password) where the students can publish without me. Almost all of last school year’s videos are kept there (as well as new homophone games and choose your own adventure stories).

Another New Class
I updated the study guide and had my new class use it from the start of this school year. It’s gone well, and they just made their first round of videos.


We now have three years of students who have contributed to the dictionary, and I am connecting with teachers in fourth and fifth grades to ramp up new video creation for the year.

The Future
I would love to get our dictionary to a critical mass where schools around the world could use our students’ videos as a resource. If we can get three full grades involved at my school, I think 400 total videos is a nice lower level goal for this school year. We will start there. If we could get other schools involved, however, there’s no limit to where we could go. I will post updates here.

If you would like to get involved, there are two ways:

  • Use our dictionary as a study resource (I can share the packet with you).
  • Make your own videos.

I’ve honed and updated our process for making videos, and I can share some resources with you. Please leave a comment or get in touch if you are interested.

This entry was posted in Language and Vocabulary, Video, Youtube. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Course 5 Final Project, 1.5 years later

  1. Amanda Shaw says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I am SO interested in your process for making videos, especially as you have clearly crafted it over time and for a young audience – it must be very clear now! Where would we be able to see your cliff notes, please?

    I think the idea is genius too, both as a consolidation of understanding and in a gesture that will teach others.

    In art, I have been pondering the possibility of using QR codes in a dictionary ‘around the room’. I would have a QR code next to various words on the walls of the art room – words for art techniques, elements, principles, etc, etc. The students can then click on these and jump to a video definition of the word, or a helpful link. Aurasma, rather than QR codes, is another possibility, although it’s glitchy…

    However if the kids made the videos, it would be even better! Humm…

    On another note – I also have a shared gmail address for elementary art (and so a Picassa / Best Album, Google Drive and YouTube account), and it does make sharing SO much easier. However, a tech teacher told me that this is not actually allowed – that is, having so many people accessing the same email account. In the meantime, it works, but do we know of another way at all?

    • Jeff Lewis says:

      Hi, Amanda, thanks for the comment. I haven’t written one focused post on how we make the vocabulary videos, so that’s on the “to-do” list, but you can get all of the bits and pieces and links in my Course 5 Final Project post. I will let you know when I write a specific update.

      I love your idea on definitions around the room. As for the shared email address…technically it’s my email and they are using the password only for uploading (and possibly using YouTube editor). If Google comes knocking on my door to tell me it’s not allowed, I can go back to typing in the password for everyone, but until then the current system works.

      I’ll let you know when the new post is up.

  2. Rose says:

    I absolutely love this idea, and would like to use it with my 7th and 8th grade literacy students. I know I am at a much higher grade level than you, but I think my students would be fully engaged in making awesome videos that helped them increase their vocabulary.

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