Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Making Documentary Films: Introducing the New Leaders!

Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Making Documentary Films: Introducing the New Leaders!

Article excerpt

The use of digital technologies and media arts can help engage students in a number of ways. For example, it can provide young people with connections between texts they use in classrooms and texts they use in other components of their lives, helping to link school and outside school lives. It's possible to use the introduction of new technologies to raise the intellectual rigour of classroom activities, by focusing students' attention on new technical vocabulary, specific techniques and by insisting that they work across modes simultaneously. It would be silly to suggest that using digital technologies in the classroom is some sort of magical solution to improve the literacy levels of students. However, they can help us go some way to ensuring our literacy and English programs are substantive and engaging. At the very least, their introduction can offer teachers and students a way to engage with literacy practices using different modes.

The use of iPads is becoming more common in primary classrooms. Of benefit because of the range of word processing, utilities and education/information applications that they make available, there is also a range of apps that provide opportunities for students and teachers to explore ideas creatively. As smart technologies become more accessible to a broader range of society through price decreases, classrooms are able to capitalise on the fact that many students already know how to use such devices with ease. However, the commonality with which students might have experience with iPads and other smart technology does not mean that the technologies no longer need to be taught. Teachers still need to have the capacity to demonstrate and explicitly teach the use of the device and the software, and to capitalise on students' prior experiences to further develop capacities to communicate using the full range of new technologies in classrooms. Even if students are experts, it remains a teacher's role to plan, teach and assess the teaching and learning with which they engage in the classroom.

There are many learning areas that could benefit from the introduction of digital media and smart technologies. In many ways this full range of approaches were capitalised upon in my work as part of the URLearning Project. Students of all ages (Prep through to Year 7) created a range of eBooks which incorporated text, images and sound. Recording podcasts as part of Study of Society and the Environment lessons or writing and producing songs using Garageband were other ways in which digital technologies were introduced to the classrooms as part of the project. However, in this Practical Strategies, I will outline some of the steps involved in creating a film or video using the app iMovie on the iPad.

Before I move to the step by step guide to using the iPads and this app, I want to introduce the pedagogical approach to using iPads that I have found works with students and teachers. Later in this piece I will also outline a step by step guide for using the iMovie app. Finally, I discuss some of the benefits of using these technologies by drawing on an example of classroom practice from the URLearning project.

An approach to teaching using iPads

In this case, the iPads were used as part of a Year 6 documentary film-making unit, where students were asked to present themselves to a wider audience as leaders. Eventually the films were used by those students who wished to be considered for leadership roles in the final year of their primary schooling. In past years, a teacher had recorded leadership speeches of only those students who were applying for the leadership roles. By utilising the class set of iPads, students were able to work in pairs to record each other's speeches. This opened up the activity to all students, so everyone had the opportunity to consider their strengths and to think about the best ways to put these forward to convince others. So this is a great example of how the inclusion of new technologies into our curriculum can expand what we already do with our students. …

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