Week 7 – Hitting the Computer Lab

When I was in grade eight I was typing my school reports on an electric typewriter. If you typed two letters too quickly, the typebars would get jammed. For these two grade eight classes, being a front of a computer was as natural as texting. They are generally computer literate.

But can they use it as a tool to help create a story out of material that they shot?

As it turns out, given about an hour and a half to storyboard, shoot, and edit their story, they had no problems making it happen. And some of the stories they told were pretty good for the short time frame they had. There one based on a bullying scenario and had apparently some Gossip Girl elements in it. I thought Gossip Girl was a cartoon, so sadly I didn’t know what they were talking about.

The storyboard for the documentary however is a bit more frustrating (and rewarding) in the process. It’s much like the working hypothesis. Certainly you take some educated guesses as to what you’d like the story to look like and be, but when land on the ground to meet the person, the story may look and feel different. And certainly for small-time videographers like me, I have to adapt and respond in the moment not having the resources to do in-depth research in advance.

I hope that the teens are feeling some frustration as they try to accomplish what they envision. Frustration means learning! And I hope that they are motivated by their subject and desire to show their work to others rather than by any grade Kate or I could possibly assign.

Overall I found that the class jumped head first into using iMovie and cutting their story. Should I have given them this experience sooner? Certainly for me where I have learned the most about my camera work, my sense of what the story is, or how I interview comes out in the editing room. This is where you slap yourself in the forehead and ask yourself, “what was I thinking?”

And for me the most important thing is that they take responsibility for their own learning, not us. So much of schooling is about only learning what is inspected.

However, this means that as instructor, you have to be especially aware of what examples you introduce them too. Early in the class I had given an example of shooting what say “going to your locker” or “coming to class late”.  Quite a few groups copied the idea rather than coming up with their own.

The energy I saw and felt though was palpable. The students were abuzz with going out, shooting their story and putting it all together. It’s why I say everyone has an engineer in them. Creating is happiness in motion.