Media Creator: Gotta Keep Reading – Viral Video Project

Previously our program, EMDT, had teamed with Ocoee Middle School to help their principal, Sharyn Gabriel, with the changes she was making to help Ocoee staff members integrate more technology into their curriculum and instruction. In the Fall of 2009 Ocoee’s reading specialist, Janet Bergh, came up with the idea to do a video promoting reading, after watching a Flash mob put on by the Black Eyed Peas for the Oprah show. A small group of us from EMDT met with Bergh and Gabriel and a couple other Ocoee staffers to discuss the challenges, particularly with copyright, and figure out what to do next. I didn’t think that there was enough time left before the Winter Break to do the project. But Bergh got permission to use the song, hired a professional singer to write and sing lyrics related to reading and literacy, and the whole school used their PE time to work on their choreography.

Then on December 11, 2009, approximately 1,500 middle school students and staff members performed their song several times, with EMDT instructor, Kathy Craven directing the small army of cameras (including one in a crane). During pre-production and shooting FS production team members worked with the middle school production class giving mini-lessons and sharing camera duties. I spent the day with my still camera and shot over 1,200 images of the event (see below). If you look really carefully at 3:00-mark in the video I’m the little black dot on the extreme left of the screen by the trees taking pictures. The energy of all these students dancing and cheering on Reading was amazing.

Local Orlando WESH-TV news coverage:

As was hoped the video went viral, spawning numerous copy-cats and eventually grabbed the attention of the Oprah Winfrey show. The segment aired in March (2010) and featured a shorter version of the video and a little Q&A between Winfrey, Gabriel, Bergh and the students, and ended with Oprah announcing that Target Stores had been enlisted to help upgrade Ocoee’s library. It’s amazing what a little idea can do.


All images by Joe Bustillos ©2014
My Initial Video Post:
Video featured on the Oprah Show:
e-School News coverage of the video:

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