Friday, April 17, 2009

Journal 10

"Splicing Video into the Writing Process" by Tammy Pandina Scot & Diane Harding

This article leads with the idea that students need to learn more than just reading and writing in order to survive in this technology-filled world. To this end, the authors have integrated video into the language arts classroom in a unit designed to help students write and learn about the civil war, or any subject matter. The central tenet here is that making a film follows a similar sequence to writing a paper or story, requiring that students go back and forth between brain-storming to editing. Students are sorted into pairs and each pair is required to script part of the film as well as fill a production role, such as prop managers, actors, or editors. In this way, students get experience with actual writing and with the rhetoric that goes into the "writing" of film. All the students work together on a film that contributes to the understanding of some aspect of the class. In the authors' school, all the fifth grade classes produced a film and showed all of them at a special screening night for the parents. With how the authors have planned this activity, students get a lot of experience with group work, get to practice with the writing process, learn how to produce a film, and learn whatever subject is being studied. I thought that it was a really interesting way to bring technology together with the subject in a meaningful way. It is not just teaching technology for technology's sake, but for understanding how the two enrich one another. I feel that if the whole class works on one film though, this could become a bit too lengthy of a project.

Question 1: How would I integrate this lesson into the high school English classroom?
Almost all high school classes have to complete a research paper. I think that this could be upgraded by adding in a documentary film element, especially since documentaries are becomming such a wide-spread and important medium. If students wrote the paper as well as presented their argument in a short documentary-type film they would get a chance to see how they have to adjust their rhetorical appeals between the two mediums, and, of course, they would get important experience with film editing software. Rather than have each student make their own film, they could be grouped by topic and by their position on that topic (pro/con). Each student would write a paper and then as a group they would then have to negotiate their viewpoints into one film on the issue.

Question 2: What was one important suggestion from the article about projects of this type?
Answer 2: One thing that I would not have considered at first would be that students with unequal abilities should not be paired together. I would have at first assumed that the students who were not experienced with the iMovie software would benefit from being partnered with someone who was, but these authors suggest that this uneveness just produces uneven results. The strong student tends to do the entire project rather than integrate and encourage the skills of the other student. If students are equally matched, then they will be more inclined to work with one another because they will have to negotiate their skills together. I do see a problem with this model in that perhaps the lowest experienced pairs will suffer with their final products not being as refined as those of the experienced students. The teacher will have to be extra vigilant and helpful with these pairs.

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