Melissa Jensen
Media and Communications
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Assessment
Middle School, High School
  • Lesson Plan
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    PSA Filmmaking for Research

    PSA Filmmaking for Research


    Students will create a Public Service Announcement film.

    Image: "Hyrum Dam", by Melissa Jensen. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.



    Using chromebooks or school iPads, students will create a 3-minute or shorter Public-Service Announcement style film.  Students will shoot their own footage, or use film from outside sources (giving proper credit and folowing fair usage procedures). Students will edit films, add music, and other graphics as needed.

    This assignment is focused on teaching students how to create a film while learning about copyright and fair use.  Grading will be based primarily on student's ability research their PSA topic and to properly cite/give credit, rather than their filmmaking abilities.  

    This assignment is designed to blend principles from library media standards and technology integration.

    Background for Teachers

    To teach this lesson you will need a basic understanding of the following:

    1. Creative Commons Licences
    2. Research and Citation skills.  Consider the following suggestions for research pertaining to PSA's:
      1. Utah's Online School Library
        1. Gale High School
        2. Ebsco High Schools: Explora
        3. Deseret News
    3. Filmmaking apps. Consider these suggestions:
      1. Adobe Rush (free for all Utah students)
      2. Adobe Express (free for all Utah students)


    The following background information on Public Service Announcement Films comes from the UEN Course "EDPD 5990 Filmmaking in the Classroom" taught by Katie Blunt: 

    "What - A Public Service Announcement, or PSA, is a 30- to 60-second media production used to deliver a public interest message. PSAs are similar to advertisements in format but are typically delivered free of charge in order to provide the public with important information. The objective of a PSA is to raise awareness of and change public attitudes and behavior towards a social issue ( They often evoke emotion or include a call to action (

    Why - PSAs challenges students to deliver a powerful message in a short amount of time. When creating a PSA, students still go through the research and writing process to learn about the issues they will present to their audience, but the short format challenges them to focus on the most important and impactful pieces of that research. They learn to grab the attention of their audience and present meaningful facts in a way that promotes social change. Students can use PSAs to present on a wide variety of topics they can be passionate about, from health, to social and emotional wellness, to ecology, to digital citizenship, to social justice, and more."

    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes

    Utah LM Standard 2.6:1

    e. Follow ethical and legal guidelines in using information, avoiding plagiarism and copyright violations.

    f. Create, revise, and refne drafts of the learning product.

    g. Finalize the learning product by applying criteria for quality and craftsmanship based on existing models, including assignment criteria and personal standards.

    Students will create a video in the style of "Public Service Announcement"

    • Students will follow legal and ethical guidelines to gather and use information, avoiding copyright and plagiarism violations as they:
      • Gathering research information for their PSA's
      • Gather and create film for use in theis PSA
      • Cite and/or aquire appropriate licences for the information and film they use.
    • Students will create a film to demonstrate learning.
    • Students will collaborate to give feedback then will revise and refine drafts before submitting a final learning product.
    • Students will follow assignment criteria to finalize the learning product. 
    • Students will have options for presenting and promoting their final learning product.

    Step 2 - Planning Instruction

    Step 3 - Instruction

    This lesson will probably take 3-4 class periods depending on student's prior knowledge.

    Students may choose to complete this project individually -or- as a group.  (See learner accomodations, below)

    Part 1-

    Students should select a topic for their Public Service Announcement.  PSA topics our PSA should be concise while still offering a sincere call to action.  Topics could include health, current issues, social concerns, awareness. It would be helpful to show some examples.  

    Students should focus on presenting a topic they can be passionate about.  Students will submit their topic and what action they will ask the viewer to take.  This will be done via discussion board on Canvas. Students will then give comments and constructive criticism on at least two other student's PSA topics using the discussion board. 

    *Formative Assessment*

    Part 2-

    • Instruct students on Creative commons licences ( and fair use images and proper citation.  (Use the resources laid out in Section 4: Planning Instruction) Other resources to help in teaching this:

    Students will demonstrate an understanding of fair use and proper citation by:

    • Looking through fair use resources, including those explored in the lesson, and selecting an openly licensed video clip that could be used in their PSA. This must meet the following criteria: 
      • Will enhance the PSA they are creating
      • Is free to reuse and modify
    • Submitting a credit/citation for the video clip they selected.  The citation must include the title of the item, the name of the creator/uploader, and the site where the item is located, the license type, and  a hyperlink.  Examples:

    *Formative Assessment*

    Part 3 - 

    • Students will conduct research for information to use in their Public Service Announcement. 
      • If students have never done research before you will need to include a lesson on this. 
      • Use Utah's Online School Library to access research databases.  (See Section 2, Background for Teachers for more help with this).
    • Students will be required to use a minimum of two sources to complete this assignment. 
    • Students will use their research to build an outline of the information they will include in their PSA.  
      • Students may use this outline template or create their own.
      • Students must cite the sources they used for their information at the bottom of their template using MLA citation format.  (These citations will also need to be included at the end of their video).

    *Formative Assessment*

    Part 4 - 

    Students will be given time to work on their film projects, including:

    • Finalizing a script
    • Shooting film or locating fair use film
    • Editing films
    • Adding music, graphics, and sound.
      • For sound, I recommend Soundzaboud in Utah's Online School Library
      • For graphics, I recommend Adobe Express or Canva
      • For sound, I recommend Adobe Audition or tools round within Adobe Express and Adobe Rush.

    Students will complete this using chromebooks or iPads to complete this project and either Adobe Express or Adobe Rush.  (Students may use other programs if wanted.)  

    Part 5 -

    Students will submit their PSA films showing proper use of citations, research methods, and creative commons licenses.

    *Summative Assessment*

    Students will have an opportunity to upload their films to the classroom Canvas page to share with other classmates.  Other options for sharing work include:

    • Uploading films to the library's social media platforms for promotion.
    • Uploading the films the the school's website.
    • Presenting the films at a short school-wide assembly.
    • Presenting the films on the library's televisions.


    Learner Accomodations:

    This assignment accomodates learner differences as it allows for student inquiry into a topic that sparks their interest.  This also allows students to show their creativity in different ways.  In groups some students will be the writers, some will be the directors, some will be the actors.  This allows students to participate in different ways so that they all are learning and cooperating in the group.  Students that are english language learners and those who are on 504 or SPED can participate in this assignment as they can contribute to the film in ways that suit their group.

    Step 4 - Assessments

    PSA Style Film Example: Boat Life

    Summative Assessment Rubric:

    Students submits a PSA-Style Film Yes (2 Pts)No (0 Pts)  

    Film shows good film techniques, including editing

    Yes (4pts)No (0pts)  
    Film no longer than 3 minutesYes (2 Pts)No (0 Pts)  
    Film Cited Properly Yes (4 Pts)No (0 Pts)  
    Film demonstrates use of both Creative Commons materials and/or original student content.Yes (8 Pts)No (0 Pts)  
    Film uses research databases from Utah's Online Library to gather information for PSA topicYes (6 Pts)No (0 Pts)