iMovie showcase: Who Do You Think You Are?

This morning, I showcased an exciting unit of work that has had great impact in our school with the ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) community and was keen to hold a document here which summarises this work. This is a very quick overview with information about supporting material, but I would be very keen to discuss it further with anyone who is particularly interested.


Our ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Project is something that we are really proud of. It is based on the BBC Worldwide documentary of the same name and challenges students to investigate their family history with the aim of creating a short documentary film using iMovie on iPad.


For those who are unfamiliar, Who Do You Think You Are? is a genealogy a documentary series that has aired on the BBC since 2004. More than ten international adaptations of the programme have been produced.

We first developed this project as part of a larger project which focused on World War 2. We found that most of our children were able to find someone to talk to who had some story linking to this subject area. However, children were free to investigate any aspect of their family story.


The project is designed to have a very generous time frame. We want children to take their time with this project and have to ensure that we are teaching the key skills and related material, rather than just expecting the students to be able to work on this completely independently. We also have a Pages document (also available as a PDF) which guides students and their families through each stage - indicating when each aspect should be completed. If you would like a copy of this document, please drop me a message using the chat feature to make a request and I will be sure to send this on to you.


We usually start the project in class towards the end of December by recording some of the footage for the opening credits. Students will need to find a suitable black and white image as their green screen background, and then will combine their GreenScreen image with a small group of other children so that they have around 5 people in the opening sequence, finishing with their own.


We watch some examples of previous year groups’ documentaries in class so that the children have an idea of what the project involves, but there are 4 main segments to the documentary:


Personal introduction

Opening title sequence

Main interviews and information

Final summary


Children are given some time to work on this in class and are taught they key filming and editing skills at appropriate times, but students also have to plan to work at home on interviews, background research and filming. Time management and organisation is part of the learning focus here and we are keen to develop these skills in our students.

Recent updates to iMovie have enhanced this project further and it is amazing to see how students are using features such as built-in green screen capability as well as new split-screen options. It is also a fabulous opportunity for students to integrate some of their animation skills using apps such as Keynote as well as their music creation in GarageBand. If you wanted to give students copyright-free music to use as a background or soundtrack, BenSound.com is a great option and almost all of their tracks are free to use, they only ask that the website is credited within the finished piece of work.


I hope that after reading this brief summary, teachers will be keen to adapt the project and give it a go themselves... I am really keen to work collaboratively with teachers from across the world who might look at how family history compares and contrasts between different cultures... there are plenty of positive opportunities out there!





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© 2017 Martin Willis