What do you do about creativity?

A dilemna I face as a teacher is grading – when I make up an assignment I have specific lessons tied to it. With the Basic Shots Assignment I want students to learn relationships between shots and how to build sequences, as well as how to use the camera, tripod, and basic components of the editing program (iMovie). However, after the first assignment passes over my desk I begin to spot my creative students. Unfortunately they aren’t always the ones who listen to the specifics of the assignment. They manage to do a good to outstanding job on the basic shots…and then they soar…

Now what’s the problem? In a beginning class there must be some semblance of order. Students are there to learn the rules of the game. They can be creative within limits – I want them to learn as much as possible so that they can see what is and isn’t possible and so that they learn as much about technique and technology as I can cram into their heads. The Autobiography Assignment is my bugaboo. What I expect: students will write a script in storyboard form, use at least 8 photos, have both narration and on-camera audio, one interview. In editing they will use titles, mix interview and narration and on-camera segment with the background music…have opening title and closing credits. I want to see how they mix the different elements. What I get are videos that follow my requirements exactly from students who understand and are able to both follow directions and be creative, videos that are thrown together by students who just want to get it over with, videos from students who try but still need help, and in the final category – videos that pull me in and show me all about the person who created them. The latter this year have been from my breakers…some of the students who are in the school break dancing club. They also break rules in a way that makes sense and works. My heartbreak is when I call them in, compliment them on their work and how much I admire it, and then break the bad news…they left elements out….usually the narration or on-camera segments. I can’t give them an A or even a B unless they follow the requirements. These guys are more driven by their passion for dance and accept the grade because they are doing what THEY want to do. We live comfortably together and I wish I could ace them because they have what many students today lack: passion. Due to the anal nature of the everyday student it is hard to give high marks to someone who breaks rules (I’m looking for a way and will do what I feel is right in the end – don’t worry)…because explaining aesthetics and the wonder of art goes right over the heads of many students (yeah…I have way too many freshmen and sophomores). One student will come in with shakey video, driving sound, edgey editing and a work of art and if I give that student an A, another student with shakey video, loud sound, and bad editing will wonder what is the difference between mine and theirs. They refuse to see or feel the difference, which is a value judgment based on experience and knowledge.

So here’s to my breakers…my dancers with passion. You live outside the mainstream not by choice but because you have to. You, of all the students I see, will live life on your terms. It won’t be easy. It will be right for you. Thank you for allowing me to work with you.

By the way, if you want to see them perform, check out the video below I shot a few months back or go to youtube and look up insanebboy209. They began their youtube account using cellphones and now have a ten mp Exilim.

5 thoughts on “What do you do about creativity?

  1. If you use a rubric, like I do, to grade video projects – then leave some wiggle room in your rubric. I actually have 120 points on my rubric that students can earn. The assignment is a 100 point assignment. This allows students who are highly creative in one area to make up for leaving something out in another area for creative reasons. Don’t handcuff yourself with your rubric.

  2. Yeah…I’m still learning rubrics and the Autobio one is pretty tight. I do have two categories that give me some room. “Extra Credit” for work beyond what I assign and “Helping Others” for students who assist others on their projects. The latter I compile by looking at credits to who is listed who is not part of a project or team. Could you send me an example of one of your rubrics? Or link to one if you have one on your site? Thanks…cyndy

  3. If this is a beginner’s class it’s important to enforce your requirements. An important part of video storytelling is knowing which techniques work best in a given situation. If a student never has to use narration, say, in assembling a project, he will not be able to recognize a future occasion when he needs a narrator to move his story along, let alone know how to use one.

  4. teachj
    Wow – thanks. When I do a rubric I feel compelled to spell it ALL out. Yours is much simpler.

    Note to JQ
    Yes it is important to enforce requirements; at the same time just as important to recognize talent. I want both….with high school students you need to toss out three or four compliments for every criticism. So I slam them with the assignment but in later assignments will allow them room to show their stuff.
    (I once had a student who dropped broadcasting because I didn’t spell out every little detail of what I wanted – I generally hand out the technical details after teaching them, show a few student examples, then tell students to create their own. Too much information and all I get is copies. Too little, and they are confused. College age is different – usually when students make it to college they pretty much know what they want to do and are able to think for themselves.)

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