Since the days of watching Steven Spielberg movies as a child, I’ve been captivated by the stories told. Up until the last few years it has not been affordable, or easy for that matter to make movies in the classroom. Cameras were more expensive a few years ago which limited classroom use. If a school owned a camcorder it usually was the only camera in the school and was used sparingly. With the introduction of Media Literacy in the Language Arts Curriculum in 2006 and with easier methods of video production it is now a snap to include video production in your classroom.
1. Creativity and Innovation
The International Society for Technology in Education has a series of National Education Standards or NETS. The first two indicators are creativity and innovation. Video production in the classroom falls into these two categories. I can’t think of a more creative and innovative way to tell a story then to do it by film making. Creativity is defined as a creative endeavour that has value. When students brainstorm, write scripts and storyboards, create shot lists and scene schedules these are opportunities for students to be creative. An original script on a topic of value, say Anti-Bullying or Healthy Active Living can be an opportunity for students to be creative and original.
2. Beyond Pencil and Paper
All too often the default 20th century tool is paper and pencil. When thinking about 21st century students we need to recognize that between the years of 8 and 18 students spend up to 6 hours of screen time a week. This may not seem like a lot but if you take into account the various screens; laptops, T.V. mobile learning devices, the time accumulates. Why not introduce cameras, software and T.V. screens to students and have them use these tools for Summative tasks? Perhaps it is a history topic summative assessment. Students could be given a particular situation to be solved or scene to be filmed and they have to come up with scripts, actors, editing and post production. This could be an alternative to writing an essay with paper and pencil.
3. Importance of the Social
Students learn in groups. Especially nowadays with social media in the lives of our youth, working and learning together becomes more important. The various tasks involved in creating a movie are well suited to all our students. For instance some students may be very comfortable as a producer or director. Others may wish to be actors in the movie, while still others may be at their best behind the camera or learning how to use the video editing software. There is something for everyone. But most importantly students come to rely on one another. No one part can stand alone. All team members must work together to complete the task. Also, with the global student and teacher communities it could very well be that a part of the film is created in one country and another part of the film is created in another country by another group of students. With 21 century collaborative tools such as Skype and Wikis, students can now collaborate on their film making.
4. Visual Literacy
In Martin Scorsese’s video on October 10, 2006 on Edutopia’s website he talks about how stories can be told in the various ways film can tell a story. He speaks about how lenses change the look and feel of the camera. He talks about certain tools which can be used and are just as valid as those tools which are used in literature. Students need to be critical viewers of what it is they view on a television commercial and in films. He talks about how ideas are expressed. The grammar of film is important. All the films effects, lighting are all very important to understanding what it is on the screen. We need to teach our students how to interpret films. Visual literacy is just as important as other modes of learning. But in the 21 century becomes more important as the number of screens increases in the lives of our students.
5. Purpose and Audience
Video production allows our students to get their point across in interesting and engaging ways. If students consider their audience and how the main idea of their films can inform and educate their audience then great things can happen. Having an authentic audience and task will make the job of film making fun and engaging. Students can learn from their experiences and shape their story to a particular audience.