Saturday, 3 December 2011

Movies

was very helpful in diversifying lessons and content in class. During Macbeth I frequently used short video summaries of each act, often made by students elsewhere in the world, as a reactivation before going on to the next act. (e.g. - ACT I Summary, Macbeth Rap) With this, I discovered the joy of play lists. I can group similar videos and not have to waste time finding the next one I want to show. I created Macbeth, Diversity, and Social Justice play lists as thought provoking activations for new units.
However, when in student hands I found YouTube could be distracting. When I arrived at my placement a few students were finishing up a music interpretation lesson in ELA. They had to analyse the lyrics of a chosen song and the music video as well. Often after watching their chosen video students would just start watching another and then another. A majority of my cooperating teacher's time was taken up with reminding students to stay on task.
On reflection, I don't think this would have been any different if these students had been analysing poetry in a collection. I think there will always be distractions and I won't let a useful tool like YouTube go to waste because of them.

The above is a demonstration video I made for tutorial lesson on Windows Movie Maker. This lesson was to ensure everyone was comfortable in editing video for the following project where groups would make videos celebrating diversity. I created this by hand drawing each frame and then taking a picture of it. I made use of Movie Maker's transition, panning and zoom effects to simulate movement.
When I presented it to the class they were amazed I was able to make something like this and even more so when I told them I had uploaded it to YouTube. I then had each student open Movie Maker on their netbooks. I had previously copied some of the pictures I used to make my movie onto each student's account. They followed along as I modelled how to import files, arrange them in the timeline, edit length, add transitions and effects, and make subtitles and credits.
Once the students had practised the skills, I had them apply them in making unique mini-stories from the pictures I had provided them. I was then free to offer individual assistance, circulate and observe.
This lesson enabled the students to approach their major video project with confidence, which in turn allowed them to let loose their creativity.
The one issue I had with Movie Maker is that it is very picky as to which formats it allows in the program. Mp3, one of the most well-known and widely used audio formats, is incompatible with Movie Maker! If you add it to a movie project it will appear to be there and you can edit it like you would any other audio, but it prevents a movie project from being exported to a movie file, which is the whole purpose of Movie Maker. I learned this the hard way, when every group was unable to save their projects as videos. It took me hours of  troubleshooting and poking around to discover the solution and luckily was able to quickly find an online audio format converter to change the mp3 files to wmv (I can't believe I said that...).

Movies, whether used to diversify lessons or as a medium for student expression, are a great tool for the classroom.

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