Last Monday, my high school students couldn’t stop talking about the most recent Indiana Jones movie they had watched over the weekend. Normally, it would be one of those topics that I would have steer my students away from as we began our lesson, but this week I engaged it head on and integrated their opinions into my lesson. We discussed the shot styles and storyline of the film and a few students picked up ideas for their current assignment. What was I teaching, you ask? The Screen Education process from AFI, of course.
When I went through the AFI (American Film Institute) Screen Education course last year with several Star Discovery teachers, I knew it was something really cool, something I could use in a variety of ways and get kids excited about coming to school. This resource draws on the vast amounts of television and film that our students consume and allows teachers to apply knowledge drawn from media to core standard content. Over the last couple years, I’ve enjoyed using the AFI curriculum with my science students, who can’t seem to get enough of this stuff. They enjoy creating videos, even . . . (clear throat) educational ones. Currently, my classes are eagerly storyboarding a movie they’ll shoot next week – their own original episode of “Body Story” (a popular science series from BBC). Anyone else out there using Screen Ed to fight the end-of-the-year boredom?
This year, AFI added another component to the program; Screen Nation – where students and teachers can share their creations. Screen Nation is “a place where teen filmmakers can share their work, receive recognition and compete for prizes in ongoing challenges.” The Learn section features humorous tutorials from, Xander and Calvin, two young filmmakers who teach students the ins & outs of good filmmaking. Hopefully the recent episode I showed to my students on transitions will cut down the number of annoying zoom-outs and wipes in their current movie project.
Right now AFI has offered the first of many challenges. “Claim to Fame” gives students the opportunity to explore their hometown and see what makes it great. The challenge is to make a 5min. documentary video that includes interviews with at least 3 people. When you’re done, you upload it to ScreenNation. Deadline is June 30. Check out the pdf screen nation challenge1 as well as the video. What a great end-of-year project (not to mention principals love when students connection to community). And the winner will receive a Sony Handycam and tripod. Odds of winning right now are good – so what are you waiting for? What’s your town’s Claim to Fame?