To say Bruce Reicher knows a bit about video in education would be a dramatic understatement. The technology broadcasting teacher in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey has been an educator for more than 20 years across all grade levels. A Google Certified Teacher level one and two, Reicher also has a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and Administration, and he has been a Board Of Education member in Hawthorne, New Jersey for the past five years. And, in his, ahem, “spare time,” Bruce presents G Suite, Codesters Python Coding and WeVideo at state and national conferences.
This school year, he faced what seemed a major, new challenge. His district made the shift from iPads, iMacs and iMovie, to a one-to-one Chromebook environment. Under Bruce’s expert tutelage, students and teachers would make the rapid transition to the new platform. One of the first critical decisions that was made was to use WeVideo in place of iMovie.
Not only is the transition proceeding smoothly, the ready access to WeVideo without having to rely on the fixed resources of iMac computers means new opportunities to use video in the classroom are being discovered every day. Already, WeVideo is showing up in every facet of the school. Language Arts teachers have students preparing videos for book trailers, which combine critical analysis and give each student an opportunity to be creative and demonstrate their understanding and knowledge. Kids running in student government elections are preparing campaign videos in WeVideo. In Music, the teacher is having students write their own musical scores and setting them with note-by-note precision to black & white stylized films.
Bruce is particularly proud of the daily TV show his eighth grade students produce. A combination of live production and polished WeVideo project segments, Bruce and his students put out 170 shows per year. With 1,000 shows produced in total over the years, it goes without saying that Bruce was a little nervous about the shift to Chromebooks. But according to Bruce they did not miss a beat.
In fact, Bruce has a little secret to share. “As the technology teacher, I’m used to new, sophisticated tools like those we use for TV production. I probably shouldn’t say this out loud, but the truth is that WeVideo is easy enough for almost any teacher in any area of our curriculum to pick up. And for our students? Once they got past the usual discomfort to any change from the familiar, in this case from iPad to Chromebook, they have been able to figure out just about everything. If they were skilled in iMovie, they made a seamless transition to WeVideo and have been excited to discover all the extra advanced features it brings to the table.”
Collaboration has always been part of Bruce’s approach, but WeVideo is proving to be a game changer. Collaboration used to mean two or three students working together, but also having to vie for individual time to get the right Mac in the lab to do their own parts of the project. Now each student can contribute elements to a project in their own time and any Chromebook anywhere. Bruce can see who in a group has done what work and at the end, the project can be brought together in a single timeline. Bruce says, “The collaboration tools are really deep and we’re still just scratching the surface in building and managing groups. The training from WeVideo has been very helpful.”
Bruce was particularly impressed by a group of his students who used WeVideo to highlight an incredible project at their school. Called Club Illusion, music teachers and students organized a program for senior citizens. They set up the cafeteria as a jazz set, complete with period posters of Duke Ellington and other jazz greats. They then put on an extensive musical program for their guests, even encouraging them to come and dance with students.
Bruce had a team of three students take on the challenge of documenting this important event. They did extensive research before the event, interviewing the district superintendent, principal, teachers and students about the project. WeVideo made it easy for them to upload and organize their video assets as they collected them. Bruce spent a lot of time training the kids to gather B-Roll and to capture the natural sounds of the event. The students also interviewed guests for their views on what made the event so special. The final result was more than just a typical event video. The students were able to use WeVideo to create something that captured the spirit and invoke the time period the project showcased.
Ultimately, what Bruce appreciates is how WeVideo affords opportunities for every student to contribute and find something that they are good at. Not everyone is a confident writer, creative visionary, or a gregarious show person. Because WeVideo projects have so many dimensions, teachers can always find an avenue for a student to play an important role.
What’s next? Recently Bruce began a collaboration with a sister school located halfway across the country in Indiana. Through scheduled Google Hangouts and shared WeVideo projects, students at the two schools have been able to show their work to an outside audience. Bruce said it is helpful for the students to receive criticism from peers in a different setting. Recently the students have even begun brainstorming on joint projects.
We are thrilled to have Bruce in the WeVideo Ambassador program. Look for him at conference and EdCamps. This summer he’ll be a teacher for Smashtech in Wyckoff, New Jersey, teaching digital video as part of a STEM program. You can also follow Bruce on Twitter @breicher