Timing is everything. Every semester I try to find a creative way to let my Film Criticism students demonstrate their understanding of the work that we have done during the semester. Projects that find examples of film terms, outlines, and film clip analysis are ideas that I have used in the past. I was trying to come up with something new and challenging for my students with little success. Media fluency defines what I am looking for from my students-the ability to look at media to understand the real message. We talk about how different directors influence and guide their audience to an artistic and emotional message. The good director takes an audience on a journey of discovery for a variety of purposes that should be well defined and create a platform for the director’s vision. The second component is to create an original product that matches the media to the understanding of the purpose of the film.
Then we visited New Tech High in Coppell, Texas, on April 2. The young man, Jack, that was one of our ambassadors and tour guide on the visit, inspired me. One of the classes that he is passionate about creates videos and movies. He was so enthusiastic that I started thinking about how I could let my students create a movie about movies. After working with iMovie, I wondered what options would suit my 7th and 8th grade students.
I then sought professional help – my colleague Ami, who has been a true inspiration to my education into all things technical. As I explained my goal, she immediately pulled up the new version of iMovie that allows students to create a movie trailer- a perfect project that will ask students to use a variety of camera angles and other terms that we have discussed this semester. Our plan is to have them work in teams with the goal of having a trailer film festival at the end of the project to show to the other elective classes. I hope that this will allow the students to show their knowledge of films through the creative process and get more experience with iMovie.
It has always been my goal to have my film students be intelligent consumers, and enhance their enjoyment of an activity that they choose to pursue in their free time. I am excited about plunging into this project!
I took my Spanish class to the computer lab to use an awesome resource called Yabla.
Yabla is “online immersion television,” where kids can watch lessons or listen to authentic music, which has been organized by musical style, country of origin, and ease of understanding on a scale of 1-5. As they watch the videos, a translator box appears at the bottom of the screen which shows them the spoken content in both Spanish and English text. Cool!
I have a few boys in my class who are great, but I do need to pay a little extra attention to make sure they are on-task. About 10 minutes into the period, I heard two of them share a laugh.
“Uh-oh,” I thought, “surely they’re fooling around.”
I could see from a distance that they both had a Google doc open and the green and pink cursors told me they were sharing a conversation on each other’s screens.
“Well, that’s an ingenious way to pass notes,” I thought and crept up behind them for a closer view of exactly what they were sharing. Gossip? Intrigue? Bad language?
Shock of all shocks, they were actually on-task! They were using the shared document so they could compare notes on the video they both were watching.
I had not instructed them to do this, so I approached them to ask what they were up to. They pulled off their headphones and told me about the scene in the video and how it was just like something that had happened to them this morning.
I confessed I had doubted their intentions and that I was actually quite pleased to see how they were using a shared document to… well… share!
In fact, it gave me new ideas for collaborative assignments while they are using Yabla, like “compare and contrast pop music from Spain with pop music from Ecuador” and have them type it up while they are watching.
Many of my students are new to Google docs this year, and it is exciting to see them put it to use for their own purposes.
If media fluency involves using the right digital tool for the task, I would say these kids are doing just that: adapting the technology with which they are familiar to meet their needs.
I, for one, am excited to find more tools to add to their toolbox.
My students had divided a book we were reading into chapters, and each group was responsible for creating a video of that chapter’s main events.
It was a good way to review in a dynamic and memorable way. The history teacher across the hall had been teaching his students to make Common Craft videos, and I offered this as an alternative to filming a live scene.
In an act of media fluency one student said “I think the app my sister is using in Kindergarten would be perfect for this!” He described how it worked and it seemed interesting, so we quickly downloaded the free app and started testing it out.
Puppet Pals brings out the creative inner child in anyone who picks it up. You can choose pre-set characters, or upload your own images and set them in pre-set or uploaded scenes of your choosing.
When the scene is set, you can hit record and narrate or give voices to the characters as you move them around the scene. It’s essentially a puppet show that an individual can perform and film at the same time.
If you’ve seen a young child at play, moving toys around and giving them voices, this is the digital recording of that very same phenomenon.
The videos are fun to watch and the students have to summarize, problem-solve, collaborate, plan and execute the project… without even realizing they are using so many important 21st Century skills.
I love Puppet Pals, it’s going to become a standard fim-making option in my classroom.