Movie Making and literacy skills

In term 3 this year I worked with a group of year 6 children with the idea of creating a movie. Movie making is fantastic because it works on so many levels that I think are important in regards to education.

The most basic level it works on is ICT skills. Kids will learn how to use hardware such as cameras, lights, tripods, zooms, microphones, mixing desks etc. They will also learn how to use software programs such as IMovie, final cut etc.

I Movie is a great place to start but if your moving into some more indepth learning in regards to multipl camera, the importance of sound etc you will quickly become frustrated with it and that is where a far more powerful program such as final cut express will become very useful. I was initially doubtful about the kids ability to use a more high end product such as FC but once again I was surprised to discover that with a very short introduction by myself the kids were all over the program instinctivly.

Other ICT skills include uploading, downloading, saving to a server, cutting of files, manipulation of files, integration of different software etc etc all part of the VELS expectancies for ICT.

But that is all base level learning on a far deeper level kids will be expected to create a narrative, manipulate that to suit the format of film, storyboard, gain an understanding of the language of film which includes ideas such as power that a camera angle can generate, rule of thirds and other film concepts. They are also learning the importance of music to the medium of film. Music is fulfilling a very different role to what they might be used to and should be treated differently. Also this is a great time to use sound as music that they might not normally associate with music. Scraping or scratching sounds or anything you like can all be arranged in a meaningful and powerful way to enhance the visual concepts. These are all powerful literacy concepts.

But beyond that againg there is the ideas of student centered learning. The kids are creating personal, meanigful things not another task set by the teacher. The teacher is acting merely as the facilitator, guiding the learning to a deeper place. The ownership of the product gives the students motivation and a greater sense of enjoyment which always enhances learning. In my role as teacher for this project I introduced the idea, showed them some simple concepts and ten basically handed it over to them, always assisting when needed and giving guidance when appropriate

Kids also need to learn how to create as part of a group. One person needs to be the director or leader who takes ultimate reponsibility, others need to fulfill important roles, such as actors, camera men editors etc for a successfully created product.

Finally filmmaking is a great way to use ICT to provide another medium for children to express their creativity and their thoughts. Creative expression is one of if not the most iportant part of life.  Humans have a desire to create and if we can use ICT to better enable children to do that while effectivly communicating their creations to others than that is fantastic..

Here is the movie.

Kynan

This is a movie created by North Fitzroy Primary School grade 6 students as part of a Extend Your Talents program.

The Success Of Student Blogging

The success of student blogging.

As the joint ICT coordinator at NFPS along with Andrew Williamson we initiated a blogging program this year. In the space of six months we have managed to have every staff member start their own blog, every class room has its own blog, most departments have a blog and every student in the 3 to 6 levels have their own blog. While the process has been a large one in regards to organisation and PD it has proved to be extremely successful in a number of areas.

We have been looking for a way to integrate ICT across the school curriculum. Where it becomes an integral part of each curriculum strand rather than being a separate unit. This is how it is in the world and how it should be within a school structure as well.  Blogging has been one of the platforms that has helped us achieve this aim.

Secondly we were trying to move the school to be much more in focus with Web 2.0.

While the world has rapidly understood and accepted this change, bureaucracies are always slower on the uptake merely because of the way they are set up. Issues such as control and fear are constantly hindering the effective teaching of up to date practice in regards to ICT. While our school was doing OK in regards to creative use of computers (making movies, animations, podcasts etc.) these things were merely taking up server space and students and teachers were never sharing their learning and teaching. Blogging has become the platform that has allowed us to instantly overcome this issue (along with helping us solve our space issues). Teachers and students are now constantly posting their work weather that be in text form or using more of the digital literacies such as film, music etc. All of a sudden our podcasts became real podcasts that people from all over the world could hear rather than merely simulations.

This has had a flow on effect into other areas of interest to me. I am a big believer in not teaching applications. Applications should only be learnt at a point of need. When there is a demand the learning becomes more effective and real. Staff and students are now demanding more use of the digital video cameras because there is a real use for them rather than the trite reason of doing some subjects in teaching IMovie. All of a sudden cameras that have been still for years are now constantly booked out and we are needing to buy more.

This sharing of learning and knowledge is also something that excites me. As teachers we can move our profession on to a far deeper level if we combine our knowledge and it is through blogging that our teachers are able to simply and effectively do that. Successful lessons are filmed and instantly uploaded. This has also had the effect of introducing new communities to many of our staff and students. Social networking is the way the internet has moved in regards to communication yet it is still something that is frowned upon by our educational institutions.  The blogs have been a great introduction to many of our staff into the world of social networking and how it can be used beneficially.

The blogs have also been really beneficial in helping to link the various curriculums through the school. In my other role as a music specialist I have always been keen to find ways to link specialist programs into the who life of the school (rather than merely be seen as and APT provider for classroom teachers). Now the students are happily blogging about what they might do in my classroom or their art programs and specialist teachers can video or record classes or work upload those files to what ever file sharing program you use (we use fliggo for our school but if you have utube unblocked use that) and then email the classroom teachers the relevant URLs which can be passed onto the kids. This has greatly increased the profile of the work the kids are doing in specialist classes. Parents can see, classroom teachers can see and plan accordingly. This also applies to our support teachers and their programs.

There are numerous other benefits such as pushing towards student centred learning, authentic learning, allowing for greater display and pride in work, helping those with ICT phobia to get onboard etc and there are many ways to go about setting up your blogging program at school. We chose to go through the globalteacher global teacher program which I cant speak highly enough of.

Feel free to comment or pass on any advantages or disadvantages you have found with similar

Getting grade 5/6 kids to compose using dissonance and consonance

Over the space of a term (ten weeks) Andrew Williamson and I work on a number of composition ideas with our grade 5 and 6 kid.

The ideas are both conceptual and practical

The first idea we look at is the notions of dissonance and consonance in a musical perspective.

As a listening exercise I play the kids two obvious examples such as Penderecki’s Threnody to the victims of Hiroshima to emphasis dissonance and Erik Saties Gymonpedie Number 1 to to look at consonance. These pieces can both be found on youtube  Penderecki . The Penderecki piece always starts great conversation with the kids on the role of music, why the sounds have to be so harsh, what is dissonance (clashing) when and where it is necessary, when it is to much, how does music effect our emotions, why do some sounds make us feel certain ways and others make us feel differently.

Following this I move the lesson into a class composition piece. It’s important to model this to the kids, how you want them to compose as the idea is for them to break into small groups and replicate the processes in the coming weeks.

On the electronic whiteboard I would bring up a picture of a haunted house that has the obvious connotations and leads well to a combination of dissonant and consonant sounds.

This picture has been taken from the Music Express Series

A discussion would take place about the intention of the picture. It is to scare the viewer or leave a dark feeling. How has this been achieved? Through the use of dark colors, through the various elements in the picture, where they are placed, at the front or at the back. These are all concepts that can be transported to a musical setting. Do the elements clash or flow freely.

Placing a number of instruments in front of the kids they would choose instruments that they think might match the various elements they would see in the picture. They would then be given a  short time to come up with a quick pattern that they could teach to a small group who would all be assigned to that instrument. Once five or six different parts had been composed and groups of 4 had been formed around those parts I would place those into some sort of visual arrangement on the whiteboard.

This is where the piece gets fun because the kids can now try and change the various arrangements to see if they were effectively achieving their original stated aims, to musically replicate the picture, to have some definite dissonant sounds involved. To get a sense of darkness in the music etc. When inventing the melody you will notice in the video the kids had a simple melody and each new part comes in mimicking the same melodic shape but moving it away by a semitone creating a fairly obvious and easy to hear dissonance.You will also notice there is a mixture of melody, rhythm as well as some textural elements to the piece. We also spoke of how tempo changes a piece, originally the bass  was quite fast but we found it was much more effective to slow the whole thing down. This class should take no longer than 2 lessons. Following this the children would have a class to compose their own piece in groups of no more than 5. Because we have worked on these ideas for an number of years with the kids they feel completely comfortable in their role as composers.

Finally we filmed the whoe class performance and here is an example.
http://fnps.fliggo.com/embed/gVxr6kO9

Movie making, soundtracks, literacy the whole lot

I’ve uploaded a video (below) that gives you an example of something I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.
This was a task I was doing with grade 6 students that used Imovie and Garageband, two great programs that come with the ILife bundle for macs.
The kids imported photos into IMovie, they wrote a short story that related to their selection of photos and recorded that story in using the recording facilities within IMovie. finally they wrote a soundtrack in Garageband to accompany the movie (in Garageband) exported the music as an MP3 dragged it into I Movie and off we went. We talked a lot about the appropriateness of the music to the film, the role of the soundtrack and how it was to enhance the visuals not overwhelm them.
We also had a huge number of technical issues which is often the case and actually quite beneficial for the students to experience.

There was so many things involved in this project such as literacy skills (creative writing), editing, music composition, multimodal learning, authentic learning, investigation and presentation, rendering, teamwork, saving to a network, folder creation, troubleshooting technical issues, leadership, importing and exporting of files, learning different file types.

http://fnps.fliggo.com/embed/iYaz1nRm

Space Compositions

In Grade two we have been working on vocal compositions. This is where you draw shapes on the whiteboard and find appropriate vocal sounds to match (an early form of notational teaching). We also invented shapes to represent loud and soft and duration. We then incorporated some of this learning into the theme of space and added some sounds from the marimba that could be translated into variouse movements. Finally we made masks to make our short performance look cool and filmed it.

This is a great way to introduce children to the concepts of composition – using their voice, using sounds that can be made on the instruments having some simple notation and finally performing.

Heres the video

http://fnps.fliggo.com/embed/BFb3PDBs

Music ICT Art Literacy the whole bang lot

A great idea that works on so many levels that Im doing with my Level 4 students at North Fitzroy Primary School Thanks to Andrew Williamson for the initial idea

The kids spent some of time choosing photos that they could use to create a visual story. I created a folder and placed about 100 random photos in there. The kids then copied and pasted the photos they wanted to use  into a folder they had created on the server. I think it is a really important  to teach ICT organizational skills and saves lots of headaches down the track.  Once that was done, the kids are going to import the photos and organize them in IMovie so that a clear narrative can be followed.

Soundtracks will then be created in garage band that will be used to enhane the narrative and finally if it is required audio recordings will be made directly into I Movie that will further enhance the narrative.

I guess the way to expand this is to hav the kids take their own photos.

Finally the project will be rendered down and placed into the kids own personal blogs.

Students as composers

remy-ruby-and-saskias-piece As a very good example of children as composers here is a composition written and played by 5 grade six students. They were given a one hour class to come up with this piece and then performed nd recorded it at the end. You can hear it is written for four parts with both an A and a B section. These children have been with us for the five years I have been teaching at Fitzroy North PS so are very used to the idea that they are composers, an idea that myself and fellow teacher Andrew Williamson really believe in and try to teach . It was exciting for me to hear this composition as it justified alot of the philosophy