The progress in technology provides access to technological devices to a wide degree of people. Thus, students and teachers have the opportunity to use devices such as digital cameras, iPads or laptops in class. The possibility for teachers to offer students shooting a movie in class is nothing revolutionary. Students reenacted scenes of read literature or historical events before. However, to shoot a whole short film on their own challenges student’s skill and knowledge on many different levels (The blog “The Teachers Lounge” is elaborating on this issue and provides several examples). In the following I will provide my ideas how such a movie project in school should be planned.
I strongly disagree with the newest hype to use iPhones or iPads for such a project, despite its “simplicity and accessibility” as Jess Nepom, a Knewton blogger, suggests. The money spent to acquire such expensive and limited devices can be spent much better on laptops, digital cameras and in addition even for the license for a proper editing program. I have experienced a lot of movie projects during my school career, which were poorly supported, planned or explained. First, it underestimates the skills and capabilities of students to use “easy” programs as iMovie or Windows MovieMaker, who are usually more versed in technology than the teacher. I am convinced that even younger students are capable of using professional editing software, if they have a proper introduction and support by their teacher. See Emma Kenney, for instance, who entered the New Jersey Film Festival with 8 years. Second, schools have the obligation to prepare students for college or the job market, which they utterly fail by using shortcut solutions such as MovieMaker or iMovie for editing or iPads instead of a real cameras.
Such a movie project should be realized in groups, in which every student is assigned a fixed role as director, screenwriter or editor rather than making every student work in every field. This approach certainly has its disadvantages, however, it provides the students with a real life working situation and allows them to focus on their assigned roles. Furthermore, it helps to overcome communication problems and encourages positive interaction in the group (Student Roles).
Before the groups start shooting their movies, they need an appropriate introduction to their field of work. Therefore, I suggest to split the students in groups according to their roles in their movie team and give role-specific introductions. Teachers should use the Inverted Classroom Model to present each “role group” with their specific content. Certainly, this takes a lot of preparation time, but so does every well elaborated lesson. Thus, the main burden of the teacher’s work lies in the preparation phase.
There are several occasions offering the opportunity to include a movie project in the lesson unit. The most common is to film a novel which was read in class. Although I do not think there should be any restrictions for a teacher as long as the method supports the content of the lesson.
On schooltube.com are many examples what (high school) students can achieve.