Three Inspiring Videos to Show in the First Week of School (or Not)

I’m in a quandary.  (To be honest, I’m not sure that’s even an appropriate application of the term, but I’m going with it.)

During the first week of school, I really want to show my students this.

Make It Count from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.

I want to fire them up with this.  Sure, it’s an ad for Nike and I’m completely okay with that.  (I rocked a Just Do It shirt and covered my walls with Bo Jackson during the 80s and 90s. I turned out okay, try to support workers rights, and wear only Mizunos now.)

Last spring I showed Casey Neistat’s “Make It Count” video to my seniors, offering up the opportunity to make their own, localized version as an alternative to their final reflection paper.  Several of them made some pretty fantastic pieces that I think did a better than adequate job of serving as a capstone for them.  (I’m hoping they will give me the thumbs up to link them here at future date.)

This year, I would also like to start off the year with this video from StudioCanoe.

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

My buddy, Travis, turned me on to it last year and we found it a tremendous vehicle for discussing creativity, problem solving and growing up with our freshmen.  I also put it to use in my Secondary Education – English Methods course at the University of Maine at Farmington.  We discussed at length how it could help students to see opportunities and choices they may not immediately notice, solutions to problems that are not immediately evident, familiar situations approached from unfamiliar angles.

And finally, I’d like to show this year’s crop an inspiring mini-documentary from Nirvan Mullick.

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

This one made the rounds across social media this spring and continues to make people consider the power of the individual and the capacity for good we have in our culture.  Nice people doing nice things for people who make nice things.  And our students this spring responded well to it, getting fired up not just by Caine, but also Nirvan.  The story there seems to be about the arcade, but for our students working on community action projects, it is Nirvan’s interest in Caine and his rally of the troops that spoke volumes.

So there you are, three great, inspirational videos.  And I’m still stuck.

The other day I posted a comment to Jeff about my worries around forcing inspiration upon students.  Each year our school hosts a three-screen, inspirational film full of horrific, tragic, and powerful parables about young people making terrible choices with severe consequences.  And I’m always wondering how effective those things are — captive audiences sitting en masse, distracted by friends, annoyed by the preachy quality of those sorts of videos.  (To be fair, those are well produced and feature fairly decent soundtracks.)  And thinking about those videos got me wondering, “Should I do the same thing in my classroom?”

I’m not sure.  As the year starts, we won’t have laptops yet so giving student choice will not really be on the table.  Once we get rolling, then I may just post these sorts of fare on Lore and let a good discussion develop them, offer the chance in class for students to discuss if they so wish.

But for now, I think they’ll probably all have to get a fire shoved down their bellies.


About Dan Ryder

Dan Ryder & Jeff Bailey, co-founders of Wicked Decent Learning, a blog, podcast, Twitter feed and who-knows-what-all-else devoted to teaching and learning in Vacationland and beyond. Teachers, dads, actors, writers, geeks, buds.

2 thoughts on “Three Inspiring Videos to Show in the First Week of School (or Not)

  1. First of LOVE Cain’s Arcade. So heartwarming. I am considering offering students the first video and having the quotes from it in different areas of the room and having the kids choose one or make up one of their own that speaks to them. It’s fairly open ended, allows students some time to think of it in context outside the video and especially for freshmen serves the purpose of me getting to know them a little better and provides a kick off into what high school is all about is some cases. I could even follow up with the question, what would your life over the next four years look like if you followed this quote? Just a thought.

    • I am stealing the quote idea immediately. Brilliant idea.

      And that’s a great writing prompt. See, it’s not that I doubt the value in showing these and crafting great experiences like those out of it — it’s the idea of being inspired and then foisting that upon our students that I’m having new misgivings about.

      Perhaps it is just getting a little burned by thinking students are really going to respond to song A and then being met with “pleah.”

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