Paper Video Slides

Hey all! I'm Heather from 2 Brainy Apples, and I am SO excited to be writing my very first blog post for this awesome middle grades collaborative blog! I absolutely love teaching social studies, and I hope that I am able to give you all some new ideas to spice up your lessons.

Paper Slide Videos- In the Middle, middle grades social studies

Today I am going to share a paper slide video activity I had my students complete last week. I chose this particular activity because using paper slide videos isn’t just a social studies thing. You can take this idea and easily adapt it to another subject area (I suggest some ideas at the end of this blog post), so if you aren’t a social studies teacher, hopefully this will be another activity you throw into your teaching bag!


  • something to record with- phone or iPad work great. You don’t even need a fancy phone. If you have a wi-fi set up in your school for BYOT, students don’t even need to have a plan for a cell phone to use it. It’s just like an iPad with its own wi-fi. Ask your students’ parents if they have old phones sitting around collecting dust. Maybe they will donate them to your classroom! Most kids have phones that record or an iPad, and you only need as many as you have groups. I had 7-8 groups in my classes.
  • blank paper and coloring utensils

A paper slide video consists of the students creating paper slides (on good old white paper) and sliding them across a table while someone videos it. Pretty old fashioned, and I wasn’t quite sold that my students would really enjoy this activity when we are so bombarded with pretty cool uses of technology. Still, I thought it was a simple enough idea and didn’t require a lot of programs to use (because we know how unreliable technology can be), so I thought I would give it a shot.  And a teacher created a paper slide video explaining how to make a paper slide video. She uploaded it to YouTube so everyone can benefit and not recreate the wheel! This video is what I used to explain what a paper slide video was to my students. 

Well, teaching social studies means a LOT of facts, which means a LOT of reading. Kiddos don’t like sitting around and reading ALL the time, so I have been coming up with activities for my students to do that doesn’t “seem” like they are reading. It is very important students are able to read and comprehend text during social studies, and that they are able to comprehend the text at a deeper level. History, government, ecomonics….these concepts are all about cause and effect, why, how, etc. I need to make sure my students are reading on a daily basis, but putting a text in front of them on a daily basis can become quite, well, **boring**.  Enter paper slide videos!

We are in the middle of our World War II unit, and there was a reading article I wanted my students to read because it had tons of great information included that they needed to know. Instead of giving them a copy and having them close read it and answer questions or write a summary, I decided they would jigsaw read the article and create a paper slide video in their groups.

This time I let my students choose their groups of 4. For my on-level classes, I had the article already divided into 4 parts. For my advanced classes, I let them decide how to divide it into 4 parts, and who would read what part. Once they had their part, they started reading just their own part. Once they were done, they had to think about what they would put on their own slide. Then they shared with their group members what their part was about and what they were going to be illustrating. I told them that I didn’t want too many words on the slides; just captions, labels, or short sentences to help understand the illustration if needed.

Paper Slide Videos- In the Middle, middle grades social studies

They had thoughtful discussions about their reading sections while they discussed their ideas for their illustrated slide and their script. Unknown to them, their script became the summary I would have had them write. {insert evil laugh} Once the group came to a consensus on everyone’s slides and an overview of their scripts, they began working. Once the chatter of the group discussion was over, you could hear a pin drop. They were so engaged in their illustrations and scripts. It was awesome! Some students used more color than others. I didn’t FORCE them to fully color the pages. Some wanted to print off pictures from the Internet. I let them. I didn’t want poor or insecure artistic talent to prevent them from enjoying this activity. 

Paper Slide Videos- In the Middle, middle grades social studies

Some of my students made their illustrations into political cartoons. Political cartoons! We have been analyzing these bad boys for a while, and I love it when something we have been working on pops up out of the blue! I didn't tell them to think about making political cartoons. They just did it. #happyteacherheart
When they were all done with their illustrations and scripts, they began practicing. Once they were happy with their paper slides, they were sent out into the hallway to tape. Our hallway is quite long and straight, so several groups were able to tape at the same time and spread out.

This activity took 2 class periods (My classes are 55 minutes long). The first day was how to make a paper slide video, expectations, groupings, reading, and beginning their discussions. I had several start their illustrations at home. I didn’t even tell them to, but most, MOST, of them did. Even those students who rarely do anything at home. The second day was finishing up the illustrations, finishing their scripts, practicing, and recording. It was a tight squeeze, and I didn’t think they would all finish, but they did because they were all actively engaged with minimal off task behavior.

Here is an example of one of their videos:

I admit, I did not provide a rubric for this go around. I really wanted this to be a practice session and not grade them on it.  And I also did not want them to spend a very long time doing take after take after take because it was not going to be graded. Yes, I told them that, and they still did a pretty darn good job. Which leads me to believe that they really liked the activity, and it was interest driving their effort and not a grade. HOME RUN! Now that they know how to do one, I think it will take 2 class periods because all I will have to do is tell them what the topic will be. They can do the rest on their own (unless it's a very large topic).


  • Math- have your students show each step in an equation or problem solving while they explain it.
  • Science- have your students show each step in a process like the water cycle; explain how an earthquake happens; or show the different parts of a cell.
  • Reading- have your students break down a story into its parts on separate slides (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution), or have your students analyze the main characters on different slides.
  • Writing- have your students break down a text structure they can use to write an expository piece (a compare/constrast piece can have either a point-by-point structure or a block structure), or have your students show each stage in their writing process to show how they brainstormed, drafted, revised, edited, and published a piece.

What I love most about paper slide videos is that they are so easy to make, you can use them in any subject area, and students love creating them. My students were able to read a small bit of information, yet learn all the information in the article because they jigsawed it. Then they had to discuss their individual parts to make sure the whole video would make sense and flow in a logical manner, which also cleared up any misunderstandings. Best part: my students close read without being told to, and they didn’t even realize they were doing it. AND they wrote a summary for their scripts. I take that as a win!

Have you used paper slide videos before? Please share your ideas below. We would love to hear all about them!

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