A whole new crop…

…of students. Man, I should NEVER have thought English was difficult compared to two sections of broadcasting and one of drama. The big difference is I live and breathe video, so I’m loving it.

Rather than putting VIDEO cameras into the paws of my eager charges, I’m handing the cameras over in still mode and having them do a run-through of composition and then manual control.

In the past my thinking was to get them out and shooting video as quickly as possible…but last term I saw a remarkable improvement in their ability to “see” after the learning comp/man controls and have decided to back into my usual assignments this year.

So they cleaned out my camera cage and have been happily trying to find relationships of thirds, leading lines, closeups, framing, etc. Then I run them through downloading into iPhoto, exporting as a movie and importing into iMovie. (This kind of paves the way for the animation assignment.)

The first student nearly got to the finish line this afternoon, with others close behind. Of course most of the class is between just finishing the shooting and still trying to download and one or two latecomers (we’re still balancing classes) are just getting started.

Monday I’ll do a thorough software review with handouts – IF the blasted copiers are working. Go figure – four copies for 70 teachers and usually at least two broken down at any one time.

But back on course…here’s my game plan thus far:
Day one – Hi and how are you and welcome to my world. Hand out syllabus, photo/video releases and camera liability forms. (I want to be able to use any student work at any time – and our district is very rigid about even using work that a student may have contributed to as a writer or editor.)
Day two – Heres a camera and review ALL of the major bells and whistles. The expectation is that they will focus each week on a review of what they already know from having used it (this week was lens, lens cap, still mode, zoom, LCD, viewfinder) and then looking at what they will need to know for the next assignment (next week is manual iris, white balance, manual focus).
Day three – Review basics of composition with lots of examples (thanks to Lori Oglesbee/I downloaded a photo composition PowerPoint she created as the basis for the lesson) and then sent the kiddos out into the field.
Day four – Today they nearly all finished shooting and came back to download into computer.

Word of advice when having multiple students in several classes use the same gear for still work: fortunately the cameras number the shots sequentially, so the solution was to have a teammate take a mug shot of a student, then that student would shoot their entire assignment and then shoot a mug of the next student, who would then shoot their assignment.

Before the next class came in, as I put cameras on to charge (thank goodness I have a prep between classes to do this), I shot a sign titled “Fourth Period” to separate the work of the two classes. And when the second period kids picked up the cameras today, I shot another sign titled “Second Period.”

For this one assignment they download each camera onto the same computer/same login and then create individual files in iPhoto and drag and drop their photos into it.

The next step is getting the movie they export into iMovie to add titles. There is to be a project title (Composition) and then a lower third title that explains why each shot fits one of the required composition elements of the assignment.

Final note: even if students don’t get this assignment (or any other project assignment), I always critique their work with suggestions for improvement. They have the option to redo their work and turn in again for a higher grade BECAUSE my philosophy is that they are there to learn, not get a grade. Strange though…only had one or two students ever take me up on this offer…on the flip side, they have rarely complained about a grade.

3 thoughts on “A whole new crop…

  1. School has started already?

    My kids return the 8th of Septemeber.

    I’m guessing school concludes earlier where you are.

    MY 15 was done one June 23rd my 10 year old on the 27th.

  2. We’re on a four by four schedule. Nine weeks on beginning in late July/early August. Two week fall break/nine weeks on. Two week winter break/nine weeks on. And finally two weeks spring break/nine weeks of school and then two month summer vacation generally beginning last week or May/first week of June.

    Seems like a longer year, but we do get the breaks which helps.

  3. Pingback: Cool Links #53: New High Score! « TEACH J: For Teachers of Journalism And Media

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