Get Started: A Guide


How we did it

The creation of in2040 was constantly revamped and fine-tuned throughout the process. In the end, we went through two major iterations (described below), and found a formula that worked for us given the time and resources available. What follows are meant as suggestions. We understand that what worked for us might not be the best approach for you and your students.

First iteration. Students imagined that they were somehow able to send a message to 2040. Together they decided what questions they would want to ask. We recorded each of the students reading a script that explained the scenario and listed their questions. Students then asked their peers from around the world to respond to the video as if they were from the year 2040. The responses the students gathered were interesting, but they weren’t as literary or narrative as we had hoped. We wanted to show and not tell what 2040 looked like, which was hard to accomplish without first having a model response to show the young people who were tasked with imagining 2040. So, that’s what we did.

Second iteration. To generate a model response, the students suggested that they write a narrative about a day in the life of 2040 in which students would work in pairs to describe a part of the day—morning routine, breakfast, commute to work, etc.—based on their initial interviews with their peer. The first drafts they wrote were much more detailed, but they still did a lot of telling and not as much showing as we wanted. One student, however, wrote a very vivid description of how making breakfast in 2040 has changed as a result of the effects of climate change. We used her narrative as a model and taught a couple of mini-lessons on show not tell writing. The second drafts were much better. Your video does not have to focus on a day in the life of 2040. How you depict 2040 vis-à-vis climate change is up to you.

It was time to start building our video. First, we recorded the students’ narratives. Then the Art teacher asked his students to create images that would accompany the narrative. Meanwhile, the ESS teacher created the score for the video, and the Business teacher and CEO created a script from the narratives. Normally, we would have asked the students to perform these tasks. However, most of the students were now in their last year of the International Baccalaureate and they were swamped with internal assessments, extended essays and revision. In hindsight, we also should have organized the building of the video in steps rather than writing the script, creating the score and visual imagery all at the same time. It would have been easier to have a script, edit the voice recordings to match the script, developed the music for this audio track, sent this to the art students to visually narrate, and then edit the entire video. We’ve incorporated the lessons we learned into the step-by-step guide below.

 How you can participate

There are two ways.

ONE. Encourage your students to visit the website and join the conversation about in2040. Read the comments your students have left on the videos. Then, debrief with your class.

Questions could include:

  • What did you see?
  • What did you write?
  • With which video did you most resonate? Why?
  • How is your vision of the future different than what you saw? Why do you think the future will be this way?
  • Is this future inevitable? If so, why? If not, what can we do to shape the future?

TWO. Create and upload your own video! Here is how we recommend doing it:

Step 1: Recruit collaborators. Find students, teachers, and community members who are interested. It helps to have some participants who have audio, video, and artistic skills.

Step 2: Create a clear timetable, so everyone is aware of the amount of work they will have to put in as well as when deliverables are due.

Step 3: Teach show not tell writing (see Supplemental Lesson Plans)

Step 4: Students write the first draft of their narrative.

Step 5: Peer critique protocol for first draft.

Step 6: Students rewrite their narrative based on the feedback they received.

Step 7: Teachers or other adult mentors give each student oral feedback about their draft.

Step 8: Students rewrite their narrative (repeat Steps 7 & 8 as needed)

Step 9: Once all narratives are completed, you can either create individual videos for each narrative or combine the different narratives as we did. If you choose the combined narrative, then you’ll need to decide upon the storyline. We had students create storyboards so that it was visually clear how the narratives would converge (see Story Line lesson plan).

Step 10: Record the narrative. Before doing so, it’s important to coach them on how to read with emotion and clarity. If many students are reading parts of the narrative, then it is helpful to have them listen to previous students so that their reading is congruent with the overall cadence and energy. Also, make sure you have a very quiet place to record. Ask students to record their narrative several times so that you can pick the best recording or combine the best part of each recording.

Step 11: Now that you have all the recordings, it is time to set them to music. We created our own original music, but you can also choose to set your video to stock music from I-Movie, Windows Movie Maker, Garageband or any other audio or video application. If you choose to make your own music, we suggest having students listen to the voice recordings, one section at a time, and write down what emotions, images, or sounds/songs come to mind. A synthesis of the brainstorming session is then passed along to whoever will produce the musical accompaniment. Once a draft of the voice and music track is created, play it to the group and ask for feedback about how well it communicates their vision of 2040. Revise as needed.

Step 12: For the creation of the video, we asked the students who wrote the narratives to include descriptions of the visual environment present in their narrative. To do so, they wrote the narrative on one half of a piece of paper and described the visual landscape on the other half. You could also skip this step and let those creating the video have carte blanche to interpret the narrative as they like (assuming those creating the imagery and the writers are not the same people, which doesn’t have to be the case). We provided our video team with the narratives set with music and the writers’ descriptions and asked them what medium would be best suited to it. We toyed with the idea of using stop animation, regular animation, collage, drawings, and time-lapse drawing synced to the narrative. Ultimately, they decided on a mix of images, time-lapse drawing, and short videos. Feel free to do it however you like. Before students began drawing, we asked them to listen several times to the track and brainstorm what colors, images, and backdrops came to mind. They then created rough sketches and gave each other feedback until they were all satisfied with how all the pieces would fit together. Next, they turned their sketches into final drawings. And finally, they recorded all of the images they had created and uploaded it to video editing software (we used I-movie).

Step 13: Edit the video. Revise as needed.

Step 14: Celebrate! The video is done. Screen the final version with the participants and then upload your video to Share the link to your video with other youth. Encourage them to comment or even make their own video.

Step 15: Check the site with your students to see what comments people have left. Debrief with them.

Possible questions could include:

  • What was the most surprising comment?
  • With which comments did you resonate the most?
  • To which comment do you most want to respond? What would you say?
  • What do people’s comments teach about how people are thinking about climate change?
  • What evidence do you see of hope for the future?