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Tag: iMovie (page 1 of 2)

Back to Blogging – Media Literacy

Halfway through last year, I decided to move my blogging over to Schoology. To be honest, I hate blogging in Schoology and only decided to give it a go to be on the same platform as our teachers. So, I’m back on WordPress after a weekend that gave me a jolt.

This past Saturday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Library of Congress celebrated the 16th National Book Festival. If you have never attended this event, you are missing out. I have only attended three of these events, and I’ve really enjoyed all of them. This last one, though, was special. I drove to DC in the hopes of seeing just a couple of the long list of great writers scheduled to be there. Among them, the one I wanted to see the most was Ken Burns. Not only did I see him, but I actually got to talk to him! I asked Ken Burns a question and he was excited to answer.


My question was, “If we are updating curriculum standards to include coding and computer science at all levels, shouldn’t we also include media literacy to make people aware of how images, video, and sound can be used to manipulate them?”

Ken Burns, of course, is a master of multimedia. He has a knack for combining images and sounds to communicate in ways text can only approximate. And while I love text, and books, and writing, I really find it most fascinating to sit in front of a screen and be moved by history.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every subject could be taught by experts that engaged their audience like the readers and interviewees in Ken Burns’s films do? Why can’t textbook publishers be more like Ken Burns and his team?

Instead of asking these things, I think the better approach is to teach our own students to create small scale documentaries to share with their peers and with the community at large so we can all be teachers and learners. You can’t create a compelling film about ANYTHING unless you know what you are talking about. Asking students to make and present a documentary is not watering down a research paper assignment. It is making it much more rigorous. It is asking students to add relevant, compelling images and sounds to to their message. It is teaching to make the kind of media they consume. And in making it, they learn to “read” it.

Yes, we read media. We decode the camera angle, the lighting, the cropping, the movement, the level of the audio, the tempo and tone of the music. And while it is all great fun when we are at the movies being entertained, it is also a great tragedy when we can’t discern what digitally altered images and sounds can make us think is true.

This year I’m working harder than ever to steer teachers in the direction of multimedia projects. We have invested so much time and money into equipping all our students with devices that are, in effect, portable movie and recording studios. We even have a bit of Ken Burns in our iMovie app. We can’t let this go unused. We have to ensure our kids can read, not just text, but everything that comes their way on a screen.

Movie Trailers!

I have had a really fun morning making movie trailers with teachers. I can’t keep these from a wider audience. They are really good.

Photo Booth Green Screen

Ms. Johnson’s students will be creating videos to share their findings about artists and art. This is a tutorial I made a long time ago for elementary teachers, but I think it will work great for what this group of students is planning to do.

Ms. Johnson has had her students work on some amazing projects this year, and she shares really cool stuff on her blog. Videos are a new adventure for her, and I’m happy to be planning this with her.

 The finished products will be published to Ms. Johnson’s YouTube channel. Look for an update soon.


Landscape, Please

This morning I helped two colleagues edit video captured by students using mobile devices. I had the opportunity to share a few tips with them to help their future editing.

  1. Teach yourself and your students to always hold devices in landscape mode. Remind yourself of this by picturing television sets, computer displays, and movie screens. You never see those standing on end, so don’t make your video stand on end.

  2. Use a tripod, or brace your wrist on a stable object. All that shaking is very distracting.

  3. Get close enough to your subject to make it clear what you want your audience to see. Capturing video from across the room gives you a tiny image and poor audio when not using a microphone.

If you can only remember one of the three, please make it #1.

Fiction to Nonfiction

Yesterday I met with Ms. Thomas to come up with a good way to transition from fiction to nonfiction in her Language Arts classes. I think the resulting project will be great to see executed.

The students are reading the novel Stand Tall by Joan Bauer. In the book, the main character helps his grandfather recover after he has a leg amputated. In the process, he learns about his grandfather’s experiences during the Vietnam War. To transition from fiction to nonfiction, the students will select an event mentioned by the grandfather in the book and conduct some research. Based on the research, the students will write a newspaper article as if the event had just happened. Then they will adapt the newspaper article to film a news segment for a television show.

I really like this project because the students will explore the differences in the portrayal of a historical event in a fictional context, then in a nonfiction context meant for an audience to read, and agin in a context meant for an audience to listen and watch. There have to be stylistic differences in how information is presented and how detailed the language must be.

Look for samples of the newspaper articles and the news reports in a few weeks on Ms. Thomas’s blog.

Technology, Old and New

I walked past the Ceramics Studio this afternoon and caught Mrs. Long making a sample for her students. The process took several minutes. I’ve sped up the video in iMovie.

Watching Mrs. Long reminded me that teachers have used technology for centuries. I wonder how much tech support the ceramics guild needed to provide adequate classes to its apprentices. 😉


Poetic Devices Adoption Agency

A few weeks ago I blogged about Ms. Talley and Ms. Thomas and their poetry project. The students were to create a pitch for a poetic device or poem to convince poets to adopt them into their work. I had a really fun time working with the students and with the teachers. It was a challenging project due to logistics, technology adoption, and the nature of the project itself.

On the logistics front, we shared a single iPad cart that was also being used for other projects. I’m really glad I did not run over anyone as I raced down the hall with the iPad cart between blocks. Even if it is a challenge, this is a good problem to have. High demand of whatever technology we have available is better than having piles of tools in closets and storage rooms.

Many of the students who worked on this project had not used iMovie on the iPads. They all know their way around iMovie on the Mac, and it took a bit of getting used the pared down iOS version. The universal complaint, which I take up wholeheartedly is the automatic, unstoppable Ken Burns effect. I love Ken Burns and his documentaries, I love Ken Burns effects on the Mac, but this is a bit much. Please, Apple, shut it off.

As far as the project went, well, many of the students were pushed out of their comfort zones. This is good. Making things just hard enough to make students think beyond what they are used to is a good exercise. If we had asked the students simply to write about their assigned poetic device, they could have just paraphrased whatever they found in their textbook or online. By asking them to illustrate and narrate, we made the students think about their writing as more than something to turn in to their teachers. They had to get creative both in the writing and the illustrations.

Of course, there was one more dimension to this project. The adoption best of the adoption pitches have been posted to YouTube. Expanding the audience beyond the teacher and the students in the room gives students the added incentive to make their work worth sharing.

Here is one of my favorites.

Sound Effects in iMovie

Mr. Burch and his Goochland Players are preparing for their upcoming production of Dracula. They will be enhancing the live action on stage with audio and video effects. Here’s a tutorial I made after spending time with them in the auditorium this morning.


Green Screen Fun

iMovie is an incredible tool that with tons of features that are woefully underutilized by most users. Here is a tutorial for green screen, a favorite of mine.

Mobile Movies

Today I was back at GES, reading with Ms. Cachina’s class and working on videos with Ms. Webb’s class.

Here’s the sample video the kids helped produce.

Starting tomorrow, the students will be producing their own videos discussing different types of weather.

Look out, Ken Burns. Here comes the next generation of documentary producers.

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