Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Film Tech

I have always absolutely loved teaching my Literature into Film class. The opportunities for variety are endless, and it's hard to make a really bad choice of film. Through recent years, technology has had a dramatic impact on the course, and always for the better.

Switching from VHS to DVD format totally changed my teaching approach as did the proliferation of data projectors in the school. Now most class discussions are based on watching an array of film clips, something that was impossible to a significant degree with the video tape that required so much time to wind forward or back. The data projector allows us to examine the frame in outstanding detail.

When I updated my study guides for this school year, I embedded them with hyperlinks. Now they pop out with YouTube and jpeg examples of film techniques that were merely defined in prior semesters.

I have also decided to overhaul the big course project, a comparison of two films. This year students will be required to compare a film and a later adaptation. The project will be composed of three components:

1) Detailed notes on both films

2) A comparison / contrast paper

3) a review of one of the films.

For 2009, I will introduce two major 21st centruy components to the project.

For the paper, students must do some research on the director of each film and use it in the introductory paragraphs. In the past, I have encouraged online research cited with the use of the usual MLA format. This time, I am urging them to opt for the alternative of turning in their paper electronically in a Word, Page, or Google Doc format with hyperlinks to the sources. As I have indicated in Hyperlink Heaven, I think that this is the research model of the future.

Encouraged as I have been by my AP Gov vlogs, video will now be used as well in this class. Students are now directed to make a three minute video critique of one of the films which will then be posted to MobileMe (Thank you, Apple, for the free subscription). The class will be able to see each others' videos at this site.

Finally, I have invited one of the other film teachers to collaborate with me in posting some of our film students' most inventive works (such as the best videos) on a special web gallery space that I create for the purpose. This is my little way of furthering one of the goals for our school that I suggested in Staff Development, Part Three.

I'll report back on the success or failure of these innovations in a couple of months.

"Sanjuro" Flickr Creative Commons photo courtesy of p373

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