Autobiographical assignment…

This is the biggie – and am I ever having problems with it this semester. I taught for several years at Middle College High School, located at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. That, apparently, was a very unique situation – one I wasn’t fully aware of til I hit “comprehensive” high school. At MCHS I began teaching using iBooks and Canon ZRs and no textbook – everything the kids learned came right out of my head. Principal Jeff Thompson, when I asked if I could use a textbook. told me he preferred I make it as up to date as I could and to find web and other resources. What did I know? I was a rookie teacher, so I did what he told me to do. That’s when I came up with my original three-part assignment grouping: Basic Shots, Animation, Autobiography. In my thinking, these lead logically from one to the next and got kids up to speed on both techology and thinking.

So here it is – the third assignment. Autobiography. Whereas Basic Shots was simply learning to point the camera, hold it steady for ten seconds, choose shots and title with definition…and Animation was a team building that teaches patience…Autobiography is the whole enchillada. Without realizing it, students are actually producing a full-scale television news package. There’s a stand up (on camera segment), narration, interview, cover shots, music/natsound and titling.

Here are the requirements.
Must have one minute of narration in which you talk about your life. (at least ten seconds of this narration will be on camera/memorized)
Must have one interview that runs ten to thirty seconds.
Must have music under narration
Eight or more photographs (or video) of yourself at various stages of life.
Title slide and credits slide (must credit anyone/everyone who helped – including music source)
Total running time (TRT) between two to five minutes.

My problems this semester have more to do with the logistics of ongoing construction on a new campus (McNair) than with students or me. It took almost four weeks to get into the studio and get cameras and computers. The students were pretty decent about it, considering more than half had been thrown in the class without signing up. So they came in with certain expectations and got lecture and DVDs of news shows and cooperative assignments – but no cameras or computers or the “fun stuff.”

So wish me and my kids luck – they don’t know it yet, but with all of the issues we’ve had getting into the studio, I’ll probably back down from my “hard guy” stance and give them extra time to finish up their work. After all, at my old school they had a lot more time and a lot more goodies.


One thought on “Autobiographical assignment…

  1. Update: my kiddies took off yesterday. The two laggers finally completed the Basic Shots, all but two crews are either in production, post or through Animation and two very nearly done with Autobio, with another eight just starting in. Whether they finish is a combination of motivation, tech knowledge, ability, and how well the teacher connects. I have not been able to connect at all with one of the laggers…finally sat down and gave him edit-by-edit instructions a few days back and a list of titles and definitions. He typed in the definitions without reading them and got pan and tilt mixed up and didn’t realize it until it was pointed out. I have two star students – one who wants to please and is rushing through assignments, but goes back to make corrections. The second is a perfectionist; very precise. This is what i mean by diverse. A student who wants to achieve will try harder than one who is angry at the world. A student who asks to be in the class generally (not always) does better than one who is dumped in because they “have” to have an elective. What’s fun is catching the angry and the dumpees off guard and getting them to enjoy the class. Sometimes they are the best because they had to think their way into liking the class.

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