Screen it

I’ll admit, initially I did it for selfish reasons.

I started a movie club at school during lunchtimes last year for students from Prep to Grade 6. I wanted them to have opportunities to develop skills, explore their creativity and build qualities such as resilience and persistence. But mostly, I found it hard to completely let go of my previous ICT teaching role and I wanted to have an excuse to continue to tinker with technology teaching.

The premise of movie club was for students to create movies to enter in the ACMI Screen It competition and I had assumed it would ignite interest in some of our Grade 3 – 6 students. What I wasn’t expecting was the response from our Prep to Grade 2 students who were really keen, full of ideas and very motivated to create movies. To start with, we played with stop motion animation and green screens, getting to grips with the benefits and limitations of each. Then it was time for the serious business.

Over the course of 3 terms last year, a small but determined group of Grade 1-2 students storyboarded, scripted then acted and, after all that effort, produced 2mins 44secs of brilliance.┬áIt’s not quite Oscar material but I’m really proud of what they produced. More importantly, I’m in awe of their persistence in pushing me to turn up every lunchtime as the competition deadline got closer. And of their organisation in ensuring that costumes & sets were completed and at school on the right day, without any intervention from me.

Most importantly, it changed my thinking about what students are capable of producing at all ages and stages of learning. Never again will I doubt that younger students are just as able to produce high quality and innovative work as older students.

When has your thinking been challenged about what students are capable of?

real learning vs naplan

I haven’t blogged for a while but have been stirred to do so by the contrast I saw at school today. Immediately after they sat one of the NAPLAN tests, I had a group of Grade 5/6 students for ICT. Talking to them about what sort of day they’d had, I was disappointed to hear about how many of them had been stressed and upset about sitting NAPLAN. While I’m not suggesting that children should never experience pressure, it’s really sad that they feel this way about a test that was never supposed to be a measure of their individual performance or even their teacher’s performance but was supposed to be about gathering State/National level comparative figures. Isn’t it sad what it’s become. However we feel about it, the clearest indication that something just isn’t right is when a Grade 5 boy sat there telling me that he couldn’t sleep last night because he was so worried about sitting ‘the test’. Had he not slept because of a football match, a school play or a battle of the bands audition, that would have been fine – all passions he wanted to follow. But to lose sleep over a literacy/numeracy test which doesn’t even produce an accurate picture of what he can do? Not worth it.

However, contrast this with something that was definitely worth it – my lunchtime computer club. I started this last week with the focus on making movies. This week, we played with jellycam and some lego models to try out stop motion animation. In 40 minutes, there were so many ‘light bulb’ moments, I lost track. One boy who doesn’t like to work with others created a movie with his partner that showed their obvious teamwork and equal participation. Another who finds it hard to concentrate in class was completely focused and already thinking ahead to what he wants to learn next. All wished lunchtime had gone longer as they wanted to continue to ‘play’. They were self-directed, motivated, worked collaboratively and reflective – all the qualities we endeavour to instill in them. If only NAPLAN involved making lego models and creating animated movies…..