By Erika Valenciana (with assistance by Dina Alikakos)
GRAY 7TH GRADE LOBBYING VIDEOS: EMPATHY VS OPRESSION
Class 2: Shining; Shared Visions/Rights & Responsibilities.
At this point in our journey we have decided that their final project is going to be lobbying videos. In an effort to get kids thinking about this idea of lobbying I showed a clip from the film “Thank You For Smoking”. Students really enjoyed this clip and really found the main characters persuasive nature funny. I think this was a turning point for students to realize that you can really spin things in a way to get others to see a topic/subject differently. In this case, it was the idea that someone telling you to not smoke was infringing on your right to choose. They linked this to their persuasive writing where they have to “sell it” in their writing. I realized that the kids really like film, maybe this can be something that will peak their interest later on. Until next time…
Class 3: Shot Sizes, Camera Angles and Shot Types OH MY!
Sadly, this was a very unproductive day L. In an effort to work on team building with my 7th graders we started off with ‘Pass the clap’. I then introduced shot sizes, camera angles and shot types by drawing stick figures on the dry erase board. For every shot I had someone draw a frame around the stick figure to represent that particular shot size. At this point the students either knew the answer or I asked them to make an educated guess. I did this in an effort to foster class participation. Furthermore, I labeled the images with the shot name and its abbreviation for the students’ notes and we discussed why filmmakers use that particular shot. This was their introduction to film as a visual language.
Then I showed them a clip from the film “Stand By Me” which included a variety of shots that made it really easy to understand what the filmmaker was trying to convey (I have used this clip in other classrooms with similar reactions). Every other time I have shown this clip the class usually enjoys it so much that they want to see the rest of the film. Oftentimes, in past classrooms students would tell me that they went out and rented it. I love hearing about how I infect my students with enthusiasm for the art form.
Unfortunately, that is when this class went downhill. Usually, when I start a program I talk to the class about proper viewing etiquette and how important it is to not talk during screenings. Depending on the class I might have to remind them occasionally if it gets to the point where I have threaten to take away screenings that is usually enough to keep them on track. It did not work this time. I even ended up stopping the clip several times to remind them not to talk but they kept doing it. Agatha took several students into the hallway to talk to them. At one point, there were students who were literally giving a play by play of everything that was going on--I couldn’t believe it. At that point, they received quite the lecture on respect from Dina. It was long but totally warranted. I reiterated that I had never had such difficulty with the clip from any of my classes. After that I tried my best to ask them about specific shots and what emotion they created but what is usually a spirited participatory conversation for this lesson turned out to be less than. After all was said and done there was not enough time to complete the shared vision activity from the previous class by creating and acting out scenarios that represented the Rights and Responsibilities. So I screened “Not Without My Handbag” so we could critique it and we could talk a bit about genre again. They were very quiet during this screening. Too quiet I felt because it is a very enjoyable film and no one was in the mood to enjoy anything.