BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

October 7, 2012
by blogwalker
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A Case for Filmmaking in the Classroom – 5 years later

Five Octobers ago, I gave a Saturday workshop for our Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) on A Case for Filmmaking in the Classroom. On October 20, I’ll join SECC videographer Doug Niva at the Alliance for Community Media’s Regional Conference: Merging Local Voices and Digital Technology.  Our session is on …. A Case for Filmmaking in the Classroom. This morning I visited the original 6-slide presentation to see what has changed over the past few years and what remains the same.

Slide #1 – Addressing the ethical use of the Internet – needs updating. Although students are still filming and uploading locker room and school yard fights, the “ethical use of the Internet” now has a broader title: Digital Citizenship. Five years ago schools were starting to address “Internet safety, ” with “stranger danger” at the heart of new legislation.  Legal mandates have evolved over the years to CIPA’s July 2012 requirement that all districts applying for e-Rate discounts must now actively be teaching students  “about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking sites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.”

Slide #2 – Promoting critical media consumption – needs an additional resource.  The images below are from a 2007 keynote address from the National Council for Teachers of English’s  Ernest Morrell, who elaborated on the NCTE’s then newly released definition for literacy in the 21st century by explaining a critical need to provide students with first-hand opportunities to explore and manipulate media so that they might become as skilled in reading and interpreting images as they are with decoding traditional text.

Today, I would add to the mix Renee Hobb’s research on the importance of media literacy:

“To fulfill the promise of digital citizenship, Americans must acquire multimedia communication skills that include the ability to compose messages using language, graphic design, images, and sound, and know how to use these skills to engage in the civic life of their communities. These competencies must be developed in formal educational settings, especially in K–12 and higher education, as well as informal settings. The inclusion of digital and media literacy in formal education can be a bridge across digital divides and cultural enclaves, a way to energize learners and make connections across subject areas, and a means for providing more equal opportunities in digital environments.”

 

Slide #3 – Providing students with multiple ways to access the core curriculum  – I’ll be leaving interviews with an elementary school SEVA film producer and a middle school SEVA film producer, who share their perspectives on how the process of filmmaking translates into learning venues. But I’ll be replacing CogDogRoo’s (Alan Levine) 50+ Ways to Tell a Story  with first graders explaining a math problem via video and 12th grade AP Stats students filming and editing their teacher’s lectures and then uploading them a class blog to provide students, and a worldwide audience, with 24/7 access to the lesson. Wonderfully, the sample bank of student-created core curriculum content and concepts continues to grow!

Slide #4 – Supporting a collaborative learning environment – I’ll be replacing reference to filmmaker Nikios Theodosaki’ (The Director in the classroom: How filmmaking Inspires Learning) quote that “Filmmaking is a collaborative art, requiring dozens of passionate craftspeople to bring about a focused vision onto the screen.  Each brings with them their own experiences and insights and makes the final film richer and truer than the director originally imagined” (p 7) with Common Core Anchor Standards for Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.”

Slide #5 – Responding to current research – Will be eliminating this slide.  Between the research of Renee Hobbs and what’s gone into the Common Core in defining what students need to be career and college ready, I will have already referenced the research several times.

Slide #6 – Engaging students – I’ll replace the original SEVA Awards night clip with a more recent one. The new clip shows a student stepping up to accept an award – and having to give a completely impromptu acceptance speech….a student, who within one school year “walked the red carpet” for the first time… and also moved from “Far below basic,” almost passing beyond “Basic” and into “Proficient.” If I were limited to one justification for filmmaking in the classroom – including Title 1 sites – it would be for the impact of taking student voices beyond the walls of the classroom. When student see their work as valued by and having an impact on a genuine audience (beyond) their teacher, they are empowered and motivated to created and share content that makes a difference.

So five years later, filmmaking in the classroom remains alive and well – with Common Core Standards supporting the argument. I rest my case.

January 1, 2012
by blogwalker
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Tips and Tools for Making an Award-Winning PSA

“To fulfill the promise of digital citizenship, Americans must acquire multimedia communication skills that include the ability to compose messages using language, graphic design, images, and sound, and know how to use these skills to engage in the civic life of their communities.” ~Renee Hobbs

As we head into the New Year, it is exciting to see a number of great video competitions open to students.  From our regional spring SEVAs competition to NextVista’s national and international events, students can hone their 21st century skill set (critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, (digital) citizenship) – as they build their ePortfolios and digital footprints.

It is also exciting to see a growing number of free online tools and tips to help student filmmakers through the process of taking a message and transforming it into a media gem. For example:

Pre-production:

Storyboards – From printable storyboards to Mathew Needleman’s more organic approach to storyboarding, storyboarding is a starting point for creating a powerful PSA.

Script writingPSA Scripting Template – Thank you, Bill Ferriter, for this excellent resource!

Production:

Camera shots:

  • Rule of Thirds – This basic camera rule/practice will rock your world – and your students – if you’re not already familiar with it.  Here’s a great video by Kids in Action on everything you need to know about the rule of thirds. Once you’re aware of the rule of thirds, it will change how you view videos – such as this trailer from High School Musical (thanks again to Mathew Needleman for sharing this one).

  • Wide-Medium-Tight Shots – I had another big ah ha moment, right up there with learning about the rule of thirds, when I attended SECC’s SEVA Training session with News 10’s multimedia journalist Nick Monacelli.  I recommend watching the entire 40-minute session on Building a News Story. But if you’re short on time, move the play head  about 15 minutes into the presentation and watch Nick explain the importance of taking B-roll footage. It’s B-roll tight shots – not transitions – that “professionals” use to quickly and smoothly move a story along.

And the big ah ha?  Hey, until hearing Nick’s presentation, I had not considered that almost never in a news story will you see transitions used.  Aside from the rare dissolve transition, used to show a flashback or change in time, transitions are  not part of an award-winning newscast. But, oh my, do students, especially elementary students, love to use transitions! Nick’s presentation could be just the tip students need to rethink the use of star wipes, for instance, in transitioning their viewers from one scene to the next.

Post-production:

Audio/Music:

  • UJam – I am no longer envious of Mac users’ access to Garageband (I teach in a PC district), thanks to UJam, a free, web-based program for creating music – even if you (like me) are music-challenged. UJam was one of my favorite take-aways from last summer’s Merit program.
  • ccMixter – ccMixter is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want.  I learned about CCMixter in Silvia Tolisano’s wonderful Digital Storytelling How to Guide for Educators.
  • Jamendo – A rapidly-growing community of free, legal and unlimited music published under Creative Commons licenses.
  •  Audacity –  A free, cross-platform program for creating and editing audio. Here’s a link to my favorite Audacity tutorial: Audacity Basics

Video editing – Although I’m still grieving the loss of cloud-based JayCut, such an awesome freebie that even included green screen options – and allowed editing from both Mac and PC, eliminating all kinds of school-to-home/home-to-school issues – I continue to be grateful for iMovie, Movie Maker, and PhotoStory3 (one of my favorite digital storytelling tools!).  And I look forward in the New Year to exploring free smartphone apps for filmmaking.

I think one of the most important things we can do for students is to support and promote their efforts at becoming effective multimedia writers. Providing tools and tips is one way – along with providing authentic audiences.  Over the next month, I’d like to gather a comprehensive list of student video competitions.  If you know of any, please jump in and leave a comment.

The great films have not been made yet. The ones who will make them are out there, though, riding a skateboard.” ~Robert Altman

October 23, 2010
by blogwalker
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Building a News Story = Building 21st Century Literacies

News 10’s Nick Monacelli’s September SECC session on Building a News Story was outstanding! And the good news for teachers – across grade levels and subject areas – who were not able to join us live at Channel 10 is that you and your students now have access to the entire presentation:

SEVA-nick

As I’m writing this post, I’m also re-listening to Nick’s talk – and thinking that the samples, tips, and discussion all help  to make visible NCTE’s Definition for 21st century literacy:

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments”

Many thanks to SECC and cameraman Doug Niva for hosting this wonderful resource.

January 28, 2010
by blogwalker
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Teaching Students to Write Creative Non-fiction for Video

vernonI walked away from media teacher  Vernon Bisho’s Thursday night SEVA session Understand > Care > Feel > Learn with a whole new understanding of the art of creative non-fiction writing for video.  Vernon provides his high school students with the scaffolding needed to produce award-winning entries.  But his program could easily be adapted to elementary and middle school students.

I’m betting that if I roll out Vernon’s strategies with 4th and 5th grade filmmakers, particularly tips for interviewing, they too will gain a better understanding of this genre,  and very likely improve their media literacy skills in the process.

In a nutshell, Vernon believes:

“If you don’t understand, you won’t care.  If you don’t care, you can’t feel.  If you can’t feel, you won’t learn.”

He embeds this philosophy in his non-fiction idea web/brainstorm worksheet, which includes the reminder: “Must capture  your audience’s attention in the first 15 seconds: interesting B-roll, music, or a catch lead line is key.”  And just in case we weren’t familiar with the term B-roll, Vernon shared a YouTube explanation.

So here’s how Vernon’s students move through the process of creating a non-fiction story:

  • Part 1 – Start with the back-story (who, what, where, when, why + how). The back-story clarifies the reason for the story. It is the first step in helping the audience to UNDERSTAND the problem. Connect Part 1 to Part 2 by explaining the goal or the motivation for the story – building the transition for your audience to CARE.
  • Part 2 – Introduce the specifics about the reason for story and the process (obstacles – or moral premise). Create tension and deal with feelings.  Between Part 2 and Part 3, introduce the lowest point or emotional high. Your audience needs the emotional impact in order to FEEL.  And the most important thing in telling a story is to make people feel.
  • Part 3 – Make visible the lesson learned/payoff.  Where do we go from here? As your audience makes connections between the story and their lives, they LEARN.

How can your students begin practicing and applying the above  concepts? How about by viewing samples of creative non-fiction video clips, such as CBS’s High School Hero comforts Kids with Cancer or a sample from one of Vernon’s students: Gabe Lock, Rising Star.

Elementary teachers and secondary content area teachers often struggle with how to include media literacy within their programs. Why not start the day/period with a recent TV news interview, local or national, which most likely will run no more than 3 -5 minutes (about the time needed to take attendance, etc.), and ask students to identify how the producers provide the audience with the opportunity to understand, care, feel, and learn? Such a simple way to help students make those inter-textual connections that lead to higher literacy levels!

Vernon has posted a number of his handouts to our newly formed Digital Media Communit (which you are warmly invited to join):

As soon as he posts his 2-column storyboard for non-fiction and his overview handout, I’ll add them to this post.

I’m heading into the SECC site to find the date for the next SEVA training event!

 

February 16, 2009
by blogwalker
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Tuskegee Airman Videoconference Now Online

Looking for resources for Black History Month? Thanks to the wonderful Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC), you can read about my recent videoconference with Tuskegee Airman Alexander Jefferson, and then watch the clips:

Still in awe of how videoconferencing can enrich teaching and learning – way beyond the walls of the classroom.

August 22, 2008
by blogwalker
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Why Filmmaking Belongs in the Classroom

“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.” Stanley Kubric

For the past couple of years, Nikos TheodosakisThe Director in the Classroom has been my top recommendation to teachers wanting to venture into filmmaking as part of their curriculum. In addition to tips and wonderful graphic organizers, Nikos also lays out a compelling argument (on behalf on his own children – and all children) for why filmmaking belongs in the classroom, starting with Part 1:

  • Learning in a world of change
  • Living and learning in a visual world
  • How filmmaking develops higher order thinking skills
  • How filmmaking develops personal and social skills
  • How filmmaking raises awareness

I have a new favorite: Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom, by John Golden. I found this gem while attending the July National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Institute for 21st Century Learning. What a great resource for secondary teachers – and probably upper elementary too. “Even though this book deals with cinematic technique and film study, it is ultimately a book about using film to help students improve their reading and analytical skills.”

Golden includes over 30 films, ranging from E.T. The Extraterrestrial to Life Is Beautiful , and provides strategies for viewing each, including reading strategies (e.g., predicting, responding, questioning, and storyboarding), textual analysis (e.g., characterization, point of view, iron, and connections/comparisons between authors’ and directors’ choices) and classroom tested suggestions for developing units. Tons of powerful images pulled from films, along with thought-provoking “Questions to Consider.”

I’m working on a presentation right now for our Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium‘s upcoming Video in the Classroom event.  I’ll be sharing both books during my session – and am seeking a third to add to the list.

April 29, 2008
by blogwalker
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The Importance of Storyboarding in Digital Storytelling – A Student Perspective

Over the next few weeks, I will be uploading and showcasing some of the amazing student projects that have come out of the DOLCHE project. Right now we are gathering input from students on their tips for future filmmakers. If your students are questioning the value of storyboarding as part of pre-production, I think Florin High School student Xavier Carillo (from Bob LeVin’s 12 grade English class) explains it well.

xavier-fhs.gif

Many thanks to SECC cameraman Doug Niva for sharing the interview clip…with more to come:-).

April 19, 2008
by blogwalker
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Entering the Grant Writer’s World

cde.pngFor the last two weeks, I’ve been immersed in writing the application for my district’s EETT Round 7 grant (federally funded grant, administered through the state). The form and requirements are enough to put off a grant-writing newbie such as myself from jumping through all the hoops required in time to meet the April 23rd deadline. Why would I volunteer for such a task? In a nutshell, I want to provide three of our low-income elementary sites with the equipment, research base, and professional development needed to transform the current language arts program into multimedia/multimodal opportunities to take a publisher’s scripted program beyond the walls of the classroom and into the 21st century. In large part, the inspiration for writing the RFA comes from:

  • The DOLCHE project: I am awed by the film projects coming out of our DOLCHE classes, along with the teacher testimonials for how filmmaking has enriched their curriculum and engaged so many of their students in the learning process. A significant percent of this year’s SEVA entries are from the DOLCHE project. The project has clearly had an impact on students and teachers.

As part of the proposal, I am therefore very enthusiastically including Mathew Needleman, who will connect from Los Angeles Unified SD via interactive videoconferencing to work with teachers and students on the skills needed to take an Open Court (district-adopted language arts textbook) theme through the steps required to create an language arts rich production.

  • Will Richardson‘s Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms: Will’s book (pages 8-9) made it easy for me to lay out Teachers’ Use of Technology to improve student achievement (Section 2e of the proposal). In a matter of minutes, I was able to explain the teacher toolbox, with its “mix of tools that publish, those that manage information, and those that share content in new collaborative ways”: blogs, wikis, RSS, social bookmarking, and audio/video-casting.
  • Greg kearsley & Ben Shneiderman’s piece on Engagement Theory: A framework fro technology-based teaching and learning. I know it’s a no-brainer for anyone reading this blog, but for administrators who have fallen into the “it’s all about test scores” chasm, this research sums up the need to move in a different direction: “The fundamental idea underlying engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks.”

    Given the cost of textbooks, not surprisingly, in those first few years following an adoption the focus is always on teaching. A few years down the line, as we are with Open Court, we can once more, thankfully, shift our focus back to learning!
  • California Department of Ed’s definitions for technology literacy and technology integration (p 21). As much as all the tables, forms, assurances, etc., required in the EETT application suck away my creative energies, the state’s new definitions provide us with the argument – back at our districts, sites, and classrooms, for moving beyond technology as simply a vehicle for student assessments, ala multiple-choice test taking, to technology as tool for learning:
    • Technology Literacy is the ability to use appropriate technology responsibly to communicate, to solve problems, and to access, create, integrate, evaluate, and manage information to improve learning of state content standards in all subject areas and to acquire lifelong knowledge and skills in the 21st century.
    • Curriculum Integration involves the infusion of technology as a tool to enhance the learning of state content standards in a content area or multidisciplinary setting. Technology integration enables students to learn in ways not previously possible. Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions – as accessible as all other classroom tools.
  • EETT Partnerships – In addition to partnering with Mathew Needleman’s to bring filmmaking into the elementary language arts program, we’re also very fortunate to include the partnerships with:
    • Area 3 Writing Project – I’m really looking forward to introducing A3WP teacher consultants to the EETT target teachers.
    • UC Davis Writing Program researcher/writer/professor Carl Whithaus – This will be a dream come true for me to have Carl Whithaus and his grad student researchers observing, evaluating, and publishing about the connections between technology and improved student achievement – and engagement with school in general and reading/writing in particular.
    • California K12 High Speed Network – Without the HSN, including edZone, it would not be possible to seamlessly build in videoconferencing and to have unlimited storage for the video, audio, and documents that will be created and shared across the 2-year grant period.
    • California K20 Education Technology Collaborative – This new collaborative will provide the Skype/Elluminate- like component to make desktop videoconferencing available to target teachers. This could be a great school-to-home connection!
    • Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) – Another opportunity to work our wonderful SECC to document via video best practices and make these videos available to target teachers.

On this beautiful California Saturday morning, I wish all of you across the nation applying for the EETT grant (and working on the RFA over the weekend) the best of luck:-)

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