#DoNow w/ GoPro Project--by Sara Layton

#DoNow w/ GoPro Project

#DoNow w/ GoPro Visual
ee0e31261f6db5c99f187e00db496ccc.png#DoNow w/ GoPro Visual


This year my students, along with students across the country, have participated in the KQED DoNow project. This weekly activity encourages students to use social media to engage with and respond to current events, art, and pop culture by learning about them through a multi-media weekly blog, and tweeting their responses in an open discussion. Through this project, my students have reported feeling more informed and involved in current events--they feel that their voices are heard on a national level, and several of them have been featured on the DoNow “weekly roundup” as representatives of the voice of youth in our country. 

Now, what if we took this momentum, and added an additional component--one that helps students see that these national issues are at play in their own lives, in their own local communities? 

Here’s where the GoPro enters in. My project would build upon the good work being done by DoNow, and ask students to seek out and record local examples of the issues in civics, politics, art, and pop culture they are learning about through KQED in innovative, transformative ways. For instance, they could strap a camera on a football player to enhance their discussion of concussions in high school sports. A camera on could chronicle the way children interact with art in a local exhibit, follow a first-time voter through this civic experience, capture local wildlife, threatened species, or other environmental concerns unique to a region, document local racial or socioeconomic inequality, and countless other projects and ideas yet to be imagined by students in response to changing times, individual communities, and youthful creativity.  

With the GoPro experience, students would go beyond being informed about national issues--they would experience these issues first-hand through the amazing lense of a GoPro camera! And once created with the GoPro, these videos become a student’s contribution to the national discussion. Beyond learning and responding to events, students would upload videos to Youtube, tweet the links back to the DoNow Twitter feed, and share the videos in the OER Commons to inspire further discussion with peers beyond their school through student-created open educational resources. 

As an English teacher at Mountain Heights Academy (an all-online statewide high school) and former ISKME fellow, I see this project as one that could be implemented as a way of meeting my own classroom objectives, and also shared with others. This project, paired with a research and writing activity, would be an innovative way to meet English standards for engagement, research, collaboration, and presentation, and shared in the OER Commons as a lesson that could iterate from year to year in classrooms across the world.

Learning Goals

Students participating in the #DoNow w/ GoPro project will fulfill three learning goals:

1. To be exposed to and informed about current issues in the arts, pop culture, science, and other issues through the wealth of resources in the KQED "DoNow" blog.

2. Engage in discussion with sudents in their own classroom and around the country through social media

3. Recognize how global issues affect them locally through research and documentation using the GoPro cameras.


As a result of this extended learning plan, students will be able to

  • Gain an awareness of current issues and how to study them
  • Analyze resources, form valid arguments, and discuss opinions civilly and productively
  • Apply world issues to their own lives and locality by making connections that lead to civic responsibility
  • Research and document issues in writing and through video
  • Present documentation visually

Depth of Knowledge

This project was designed for high school students, though it could be adapted for younger students. It draws upon skills in reading and thinking critically, engaging in constructive logical debate by analyzing arguments of others, and communicating arguments effectively. Students are also required to apply previously abstract issues to their own world, and choose creative ways of presenting and teaching these applications to others. 


This project was originally designed for a grade 12 Language Arts course, though it could be scaled to meet lower level LA courses quite easily. It covers nearly the whole spectrum of Common Core LA standards:

1. Reading Informational Texts

Students are required to read and watch a variety of informational resources on the DoNow blog, identify key ideas and details, analyze the craft and structure, identify point of view, and integrate a range of arguments on each subject before arriving at an opinion

2. Writing 

In this early stages of this project, students routinely compose reflections on each DoNow topic as they seek to understand arguments and apply concepts to their own experience. In the second phase, students choose one topic and conduct research before composing argumentative writing in which they write claims, develop claims with evidence, consider counterclaims, and revise for a formal, academic style.

3. Production and Distribution

Their final videos also become a source of argumentation as they create their own open resources for others to use as evidence and research on these global issues. Videos are uploaded to Youtube and shared publicly for others to view and respond to, and use for their own arguments. 

4. Speaking and Listening

Students participate in collaborative, civil discussion both within their own classrooms, and on a broader scale as they participate in the DoNow project through Twitter and other social media during the first phase of this project. In the second phase, after creating the final product, they distribute their videos by tweeting links to Youtube videos back into the blogs, thereby inspiring more opportunity for discussion. 

Note: there is also opportunity to incorporate a more in-depth study of language to cover even more of the CC Standards, and building in a connection between literary texts that deal with these same issues would be an excellent way to extend learning and cover every CC standing with this one project. 

Student Levels & Needs

This project was designed for high school students, though it could be adapted for younger students, depending on the rigor of the writing assignments. Advanced students can focus in greater depth on the conventions of researched writing, and be required to find and document primary and secondary sources, using proper formatting, in their written research projects. Younger learners' writing could be less rigorous, while still making connections to their own lives, and using the cameras to document issues in their communities from their younger perspectives. 

Teacher Preparation

Before implementing this project, teachers should become familiar with the KQED DoNow Project. KQED has fantastic resources for teachers, and a MOOC that prepares teachers to implement the Do Now Project in their classrooms. 

LINK to information about the MOOC and other teacher resources, sign-ups, and contacts.

These resources will help teachers know how the program works, the basics of tweeting, and support from the KQED team. 

Materials Needed

To fully implement this project, teachers and students will need

  • Computer and Internet access
  • Twitter accounts for students and teachers to participate in discussions. Students too young for Twitter or teachers who don't want to use Twitter can also comment on the actual blog posts, rather than tweeting into the Twitter feed
  • Library (online) access, as well as access to local experts and resources where possible
  • GoPro cameras (regular video cameras would also work for many projects, but would not be waterproof, or as awesome! :))

Time Needed

Ideally this project would be taught over an extended period of time--two quarters would work well. The DoNow project could be implemented alongside other curriculum for the first quarter. Students could become familiar with the weekly blogs, spend time weekly studying the materials, tweeting about the topics, and keeping a record of the topics and weekly reflections on how these topics affect their lives.

The next quarter would be spent exploring topics further, researching the topics and how they affect them personally or locally. They would then write a research paper and proposal for how to use the GoPro to capture footage of the issue and create a video presentation that could be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and shared back to the DoNow blog through a link in Twitter. 

Project Instructional Plan

Step 1: Teacher training on implementation of the DoNow Project. 

This LINK has a comprehensive list of webinars to train teachers on the advantages of implementation of social media in the classroom, alignment of the project to Common Core standards, online safety an digital citizenship, and other practical advice on using the DoNow project in classrooms

Step 2:

Assign the DoNow project weekly. Require students to complete a weekly reflection on each topic, and also participate in the national discussion through Twitter or through commenting directly on the blogs.

Step 3:

Choose one topic for further exploration. This topic should be one that affects the student on a personal or local level, that could be documented with a GoPro camera. Students choose topics, write proposals, compile research from the blog, other library sources, and local experts through personal interviews if possible. After compiling research, students write an argumentative research paper that deals with claims and counterclaims, and documents research in a standard format like MLA.

Step 4:

Students document their issue using the GoPro camera, and use the video footage to produce an edited presentation that is visually appealing.

Step 5:

Students share links to final videos on Youtube or Vimeo back to the DoNow blog for other students to view and comment on, to complete the circle of sharing, responding, and applying concepts. 


Vocabulary needed changes weekly depending on the KQED topics.


Weekly Tweets Grading Checklist

Weekly Reflections Assignment and Grading Checklist

Proposal Assignment and Grading Checklist

Annotated Bibliography Assignment and Grading Checklist

Research and Writing Assignment

Video Grading Checklist

Student Work

This student example is a project that came out of the study of extreme weather by the KQED Do Now project. This student studied extreme weather as a global issue, then documented extreme weather in his own region of Southern Utah. 

GoPro Challenge 2014: Extreme Weather in Southern UtahThis video uses the GoPro to document flash flooding and its aftermath in Southern Utah

Student Data

So far I have piloted this curriculum with a small group of students with positive anecdotal data. I will be able to provide more extensive data after it is implemented on a larger scale in the 2015-16 school year. 

Additional Resources

We used GoPro video editing software and the GoPro app for the iPhone for filming and editing and producing the final videos. Download these resources HERE

Links to the DoNow resources are provided above. 


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