With colleague, +Rebecca Guenther, I assigned 6th grade students to make short films celebrating Newbery award medal- winners and honor books and entered James Kennedy's 90 Second Newbery Contest. We invited the contest's creator, James Kennedy, to come to our school to host a screening of these films.
+James Kennedy did indeed come! He spent the day with students yesterday, presenting book talks through the day. James' book-talk about his zany Order of the Odd-Fish engaged and entertained the students. I got to see it four times! (I needn't see it again.)
In the evening, he hosted the Philadelphia area screening of 90 Second Newbery films. If you are looking for a terrific, reasonably priced speaker for your students, check out James Kennedy. I really feel our day with him was a success. Our students loved the day,
Okay, promo aside, what do kids get out of iMovie projects such as this? What are my thoughts on this project as a teaching tool? It seems to me that digital video know-how should be explicitly taught in a more formal manner than most schools currently do. It should be a core competency. While my colleague Rebecca and I did engage +Josh Weisgrau to teach the kids a lesson in framing and film narrative, I think we still need to do more. I truly do believe that being literate will someday include understanding how to compose in multimedia (if it isn't already).
As a tool for generating student thinking, short movie projects like this one can be fantastic. A good short film challenges students in all sorts of important ways. They have the synthesize material, capture essential details, and consider plot and mood to make an effective film. In some ways, notwithstanding my point in the previous paragraph, I truly feel that process is more important than the result.
Though Percy Jackson is not a Newbery book and thus was not eligble for the 90 Second Newbery Screening, I feel that this student's project from my LA class last year best captures quality film making (notice Kai's effective use of framing!) while engaging the higher order thinking skills I point to in the preceding paragraph.
Kai Davidson - Percy Jackson Ares Motion - h264 from Alex McDonnell on Vimeo.
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