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Teens Explore Inner-City Life through Video Production

When the lights went on after the screening of her group's documentary "360° of Violence," 18-year-old Ebony Williams breathed a sigh of relief. 

"All of our hard work paid off. Our audience was very responsive to our tape. Their responses gave me the feeling that I had accomplished something that was very good," she said.

Ebony Williams is one of the urban teens participating in an innovative video production program at the Educational Video Center (EVC) in New York City.

The program, a collaborative project with the Center for Children and Technology, was designed to document how video production can promote rigorous, collaborative student inquiry and expression.

EVC's video production process is built on a "youth empowerment approach" that teaches students to draw on knowledge and issues that are relevant to their lives. In the program, groups of students work together to explore, research, analyze, and reflect on issues that confront them everyday -- issues like poverty, racism, and drug abuse.

black and white photo of students with video cameras (9913 bytes)Students participating in the EVC program "have turned their cameras on themselves and created a collection of self portraits that uncover truths about loyalty, drugs, fashion, cops, and dating," said Steven S. Goodman, the executive director of EVC.

When students produce videos at EVC, they perform many of the same tasks involved with writing. They immerse themselves in research, choose a topic, write multiple drafts, share their writing with peers, and revise. Other steps involved with video production include using a camera, shooting and logging footage, and screening and editing videotape.

Video production is a powerful medium for students at EVC, many of whom are at risk for learning disabilities. It allows them to explore many different areas of study, work with their peers to divide responsibility for a wide range of tasks, bring real images and content to their ideas, and create a meaningful work for a real audience.

black and white photo of students conducting interview (10036 bytes)Using videocameras, students at the Educational Video Center document life in their communities. Because it incorporates a variety of tasks, video production can present a range of learning opportunities.

"Besides learning the technical parts, I also learned how to work with people. I learned how to clearly express my ideas and how to compromise. Through working on our documentary on the problem of abandoned buildings in New York, I 've learned how documentaries can make people aware," said Peggy Buckler, a 17-year-old participant in the EVC project.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.