The idea of making a movie with your students can seem overwhelming, but you and your students can do it! I have been making movies with my students for a few years now and I am always blown away by the amount of learning that takes place with each movie. Students learn about the content of the movie, a ton of life skills and about themselves. Take a look at how I begin making movies with my class.
A movie can be many things. It can be a slide show of still pictures, a commercial or a feature-length movie. My advice is to start small. In the beginning of the year I typically begin with making a still picture movie with students recording their voices. You can see this example in my post called Responsive Classroom: Kindergarten Hopes and Dreams. You can easily take pictures of your students and record them talking about their favorite subject, introducing a new friend, or sharing what they did over summer vacation. There are many free programs you can use to put these together to make a movie. If you have a PC, look to see if you have Windows Movie Maker. For Macs, you should have iMovie. You can also use free programs like Photo Story to create great movies in a fairly simple way.
After my students experience seeing and hearing themselves on the big screen, we begin to work on another class movie. I direct their attention to the use of multiple clips and begin teaching about the process of storyboarding. Storyboarding is the important planning phase of deciding what clips to use to create your movie. When teachers begin using video, their conception of how to make a movie can be very different from professionals. For example, some teachers think that a movie starts when they hit the record button, follow the action until it is over, stop recording, and the movie ends when the camera is turned off. However, professionals record thousands of small clips and use storyboards to help them decide what clips to use before editing the clips together to tell their story.
My class made a movie called, Kinder Rules. It will be posted on next week's blog. I used the video process as a way to teach and share our classroom rules. Currently, my class is working on adding to the story "No, David!" written by David Shannon. We love this book in the beginning of kindergarten because it is simple, funny, and it was based on a story David Shannon wrote when he was five years old. My students feel so empowered when they learn this!
As far as movie making skills, I want my students to experiment with the idea of storyboarding and the placement of the actors on the screen to make sense with the illustrations. I also want them to learn the roles of actor, director and cinematographer, as well as, begin to see the possibilities of using a green screen. Concurrently with movie making skills, I want to integrate academic skills into the process. For example, I want my students to understand that the parent is the one talking in this story even if they are not in most of the illustrations. I also want my students to practice their reading skills that include tracking, sequencing and the retelling of a story.
For the purposes of this post, I have focused on where my students are in the process of making this movie. So far we have read the book several times. Each group of three students is in charge of two pages from the story. Students glue a copy of their pages onto construction page to be used as our storyboards for this movie.
Next, students analyzed the page to see where the parent should be placed in the picture. This is a great skill because they need to realize which way they need to face and how big or small the parent will be to make the page seem right. Students loved experimenting with their ideas by acting out their scenes right in front of their page! After acting and deciding where the parent character will be, they will cut out a silhouette and glue it onto the page. Once they have finished changing the storyboard, it becomes clear how the students will set the scene up, like the pages from their book, to make the movie.
This type of activity builds responsibility, confidence, and a sense of pride in students' work. They see video all around their world and are ready and excited to learn right in the middle of it.
Here are some great resources for movie making in your classroom:
Picture This- This is an amazing free tutorial about different aspects of creating movies with students. This is a must see!
CREATE- This is a great writeup about storyboarding.In future blogs, I will post about how students learn through the process of assuming the roles of director, actor, cinematographer and editor in classroom movies. Stay tuned!