I mention here and there that my Pre-Cal classes make films for a while at the end of the year. More detail later this week. Suffice to say, they have become more elaborate over the years as I've tried to up the production values. A big problem has been sound. No matter how many times you tell a student to shout towards a mic it's never loud enough. Wireless microphones are crazy expensive, so I went poking around YouTube. All the people on there making a living on ad revenue are experts at quality setups for low cost. Conclusion: I need a portable mixer, external high-end microphone, and a boom.

Rather than invest my own money for once, I thought I'd experiment. With four Pre-Cal classes, could I get the kids to help defer the cost of the equipment? Short answer: very yes.


I hype the video quite a bit during the year. Production starts in May. In February I announced the fundraiser. All the classes would compete, prizes were available depending on what you donated, and the class that raised the most money in two weeks got a big prize. I got administrator approval for the whole thing and the ok to let the big prize be a food reward.

Here's what I showed them:

Some random other rewards were added as the fundraiser progressed. One class was obsessed with getting Cokes, so I was like, ok, you give $7 you can have a Coke. It was popular.


To keep track of the competition, I sectioned off a bit of white board:

The morning classes rightly protested that the afternoon groups have an advantage. On the last day they could easily dump out their pockets until they had enough money to win. To counter that, the totals were erased a few days before the competition ended so donations could be made in secret. That worked really well, the class in the lead felt safe only to have victory snatched from them.


I was blown away by the response. Individual donations ranged from $1 - 100. Average donation was $11. Sixteen students wound up on the wall of fame.

The winning class collected $236, and $600 was raised in all. We bought: Røde boompole, Røde NTG2 shotgun mic, H4N Zoom recorder, tripod, 25 ft XLR cable, and 2 16GB SD cards.

The students were invested in the video before we even started, now they felt extra invested, some shouting "don't break OUR stuff" when it came time to film.

AuthorJonathan Claydon