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They need subtitles, don’t they? A PedagooMuckle learning conversation
October 16, 2016
0
elderbank

Short films are brilliant contributions to literacy-rich classrooms. Combining storytelling, culture, creativity and tech all in one fabulous package, a short film is a carefully constructed text that can engage learners in the most unexpected ways.

And some aren’t even in English!

In this conversation we shared experiences and ideas for watching and making short films in languages other than English.

So no, they don’t need subtitles … well, not all the time.

N.B. This post contains far more than was covered in the learning conversation itself precisely because of all the chat on the day.

Introduction

There’s a clue in the name, the beauty of short films is that they’re short and as such they can be watched more than once.

In terms of film literacy, there are six important features. The 3Cs – character, colour, camera – and the 3Ss – sound, setting and story. Particular films, whether short or feature length, will merit exploration of different Cs or Ss.

World cinema is a culturally and linguistically rich source of texts for our classrooms. In the workshop I shared three ways of engaging learners with short films by film-makers from other countries or about other cultures.

1. Cheat a little bit

No dialogue, no need for subtitles! Take the fear out of watching ‘foreign’ films by watching ones which don’t have any spoken dialogue at all but which have a healthy dollop of cultural interest.

In the workshop we did a ‘sound on, vision off’ exercise to start using the first two minutes of El Caminante (Glow login required). We listened to the soundtrack of the film, without the seeing the images, then afterwards we shared what we had heard, what we thought was going on and where we thought it might have been taking place. Then we watched the same two minutes of the film and discussed the extent to which our initial thoughts had been borne out. In the event, it’s the discussion that matters more than the ‘accuracy’ of the original predictions.

Bring in some target language by expressing straightforward opinions about the film, characters or the story or creating a poster for a cinema screening of the film.

Alternatively, challenge confident language learners in your class with a ‘vision on, sound off’ activity. Watch the images with the audio muted and afterwards discuss what the characters might say and what sound effects they would expect to hear. Watch the film again with the sound on to hear the soundtrack of sound effects and/or music. Discuss the effect/impact of the soundtrack on the audience. Does it add anything to the images?

Pupils could then prepare spoken dialogue for the characters in the target language and perform it as the film plays on screen.

Intrigue your learners, focus on culture and location rather language to begin with.

2. Pave the way.

Preparation, preparation, preparation! Before watching a film, it’s helpful to give learners opportunities to explore the characters, colours, setting or story in advance so that their curiosity is piqued. Before long, they are desperate to watch the film and are unphased by the subtitles because they have a pretty good idea of what’s coming.

Start by looking at stills from the film and talking about what you can see. Discuss who and what you can see and where and when you think it might be set.

For example: La queue de la souris based on a traditional French tale by de la Fontaine.

First give pairs of pupils a selection of still images from this French language short. Discuss the characters and setting, try and sequence the stills to tell a story.

Then pupils match English captions to the images.

Lastly, pupils match the French captions.

A whole class discussion about the various elements of the film and also the skills and techniques used to match the French captions will reveal the extent to which learning in literacy and languages is being applied.  Consider reasons why Benjamin Renner, the animator might have chosen to use only four colours in the film – black, white, red and green.

Finally, watch the film with or without English subtitles. Afterwards, discuss the effect of the colour choices – black (lion, bad), white (all other animals, innocent), red (danger, environment around the lion) and green (among the trees, away from the lion) and the impact of the instrumental soundtrack – Why string instruments? Why sometimes plucked and sometimes bowed?

By accessing this film through www.languagesonscreen.org (Glow login required) you have the choice to stream or download it with or without subtitles. You could watch it without subtitles the first time and then with subtitles on a second viewing.

3. Create and be comfortable.

Intuitive tech and local creatives can make film making easy – regardless of language.

Live action movies are easy to edit with move maker software and for animations, free iPad apps such as Sock Puppets, Yakit kids, My Talking Avatar, Chatterpix Kids, Tellagami and Voki Ed are very simple to use. Depending on the app, you can create an animated background and character(s) then record your character(s) taking for anything from 10-30 seconds. To make a longer film, save several clips to your camera roll then stitch them together to make a longer film using iMovie or equivalent.

Another option is to involve local creative companies. Last session children at Elderbank PS in Irvine and St Anthony’s PS in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire worked with animators from Halo Digital Arts. P3 and P6 pupils at Elderbank produced The Portal Loo a film in French, English and British Sign Language, while P7 pupils at St Anthony’s made ¡Go, go Globo! a film in Spanish and English (Glow login required to view both on North Ayrshire 1+2 Primary Languages Video Channel). In both cases the children did the script, artwork, music and voices while Halo staff supported the technical side of things. In both cases it is clear that the level of language in French/Spanish was appropriate to the children involved. Rather than the alternative of developing a script in English and translating it into French/Spanish which would have reflected their proficiency in English and the use of Google translate, the children developed stories which enabled them to use vocabulary, phrases and songs that they were familiar and comfortable with, but still within a highly creative context.

With a bit of understanding about the 3Cs and 3Ss, children and young people will be well informed when it comes to making their own films.

Finding short films to use in class

Looking for films to use in class? Look no further than:

    • Screening Shorts, Languages in Screen and Scotland on Screen websites have all recently had a makeover and are still free to access for Scottish teachers via Glow. Screening Shorts has some of my favourite films without dialogue. Languages on Screen features shorts in French, German, Italian and Spanish. My favourite experience of using Scotland on Screen so far was P6s adding a mechanised French voiceover to the Daleks in Glasgow clip! All three sites have lesson guides and video tutorials.
    • Film G: the home of an annual Gaelic film making competition for schools, community groups and professional film makers.
    • Literacy Shed: a wide ranging and regularly updated collection of short films in a range of languages and with accompanying teaching ideas.
    • My ‘Shorts’ board on Pinterest currently has more than 260 short films in a wide variety of countries and in a range of langauges, or indeed none at all.
    • Into Film has teaching resources related to lots of feature films in many different langauges – Love Languages Spanish being one of the newest.

 

This is a abbreviated version of a post originally posted on the PedagooMuckle wiki.

They need subtitles, don’t they? is the Prezi that accompanied the learning conversation.

Reciprocal Teaching
reciprocal

Recently two colleagues taught me all about Reciprocal Teaching as a way of encouraging literacy in the classroom.

Each member of a group is given a different role, Predictor, Clarifier, Summariser or Questioner. All group members are given a piece of text to read, with each of them looking at a different role within this, it means that when they go to discuss the piece of text, they all have different ideas and perspectives to bring to it and it structures the activity much better.

Not only does this encourage literacy, it also encourages group work and makes each member accountable.

I have created some worksheets that will aid each member with their role and tasks to structure their reading.

You can download them here. Free Printables- Reciprocal Reading

Reciprocal Teaching

Read More Here: http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/reciprocal_teaching

[Posted originally on Learning RMPS.]

Engaging pupils with iMovie trailers
June 7, 2016
0
ipad-1126136_640

Following a challenging morning, we were bracing ourselves for the afternoon session in our nurture base. We support the most vulnerable children in the authority. We base our practice on the nurture principles and the Boxall profile and the children’s mental, social and emotional well-being is a priority for us. Or, as I’ve seen on social media, ‘the Maslow stuff needs to be done before the Bloom’s’. As a number of our pupils were at bump up days or transition to secondary visits, we were expecting only two pupils.

The first to arrive insisted on some outdoor learning (or absconded if you prefer) following various expletives and suggestions to the taxi escort regarding how she might like to spend her time. Two members of staff headed out to ensure his safety and encourage his return. This left me with one senior primary pupil (there were other staff with younger pupils next door). Let’s call him Jamie, for any Outlander fans.

A calm entry and exit is an important part of a session, so there were three activities available for Jamie to choose his soft start. He chose the Geomag magnetic toys and we chatted about his day as he built his characters. He was a little unsettled so I extended the activity to allow him to quietly focus on his construction. Jamie suddenly asked me about an iMovie trailer he’d seen me make with another pupil. This had been inspired by a session at Pedagoo Perth and had been very successful. With an animated face, he asked if we could make one with his Superheroes.

This led the afternoon away from the plan but was responsive to his needs. We began to plan the trailer. Never one to use twenty words when eighty will do, this took some time but we got there. As we filmed and took photos, Jamie kept saying, ‘awesome’ and ‘cool’. He was fully engaged and, in fact, was leading the project. He chose the text and insisted that his middle name was included in his name for the credits.

When he viewed the finished trailer, his face lit up and he beamed at his name on the credits. After watching it again, he turned to me and said, “This is the best experience of my life”. It was no exaggeration for him. He had been engaged, he experienced success and his day had been turned around. He shouted the other adults over, to share his success.

Jamie then naturally reviewed his project and decided that, next time, it would be better with a green screen so that his hands can’t be seen. I’m not sure if this is possible but requires some PL for me. I am very glad that I travelled to Perth that day – huge thanks to @ciaracreative for her session that day.
You can read about the conversation here. iMovie Trailers

 

Big Writing workshop @ #tmslfringe12

The workshop I’m am leading at #tmslfringe12 is on my experiences of using Big Writing in my classroom.  I don’t profess to be an expert as I have received no official training (cluster has arranged this for February inset).  Hopefully though people will leave with some new ideas they can use in their classroom.

Don’t worry if you weren’t able to attend because if you click here I have collated all the Big Writing resources I have found so far.

There are also resources available on Ros Wilson’s website.

Big Writing Timer

One Minute Writing
March 21, 2012
7

There are times when I have felt very demoralized when I read the children’s writing.  I teach Primary 4  in the north of Glasgow.  No matter how much input I give there are some children who simply do not like writing.

Recently I have started doing One Minute Writing.  It is a great way of using the odd 10minutes before breaks that can happen for a variety of reasons.

The first time I used this was after a fire drill and there was 10 minutes between getting back to class and the morning break.  The children were noisy and restless.

As their literacy jotters were on their desks I asked them to put the heading One Minute Writing and the date.  They were a bit bemused at starting what they thought was a writing lesson with so little time available.

When they had done this I explained that I would write a single word on the board and they would write about that word for exactly one minute.  A timer was set and I wrote the word “fire”.

They all looked wvery industrious. I was impressed. When the timer rang they out down their pencils and every child was keen to read what they had written.  I chose the ones who were usually reluctant to write and also reluctant to share their work with the class.

The results were like list poems.

One example:

Fire is dangerous

Fire can kill

Fire spreads quickly

Fire is hot

Fire can burn you

Keep safe from fire.

 

I honestly think that they write as much in the given minute as many of them would write in 30 minutes.

Now they ask when they can do One Minute Writing.

Why don’t you give it a try. Let me know how it works for you and your class.

 

Games-Based Learning CfE

I am a Secondary English Teacher, but first and foremost I am a Teacher. In my past ‘life’ I was a Software Engineer so I am a Bachelor of both the Sciences and the Arts.  In a way I am an embodiment of the tenets of Curriculum for Excellence – I should be, because I hated my schooling: it didn’t fit me, nor I it;

Around this time last year I was near to completing the excellent Postgraduate Diploma in E-learning at Edinburgh University; Digital Game-based Learning was one of the six modules of study that focused on the learning and teaching benefits to be gained from existing and bespoke software applications.

I stumbled upon Silent Hunter III, a World War II software simulation game for the PC, and purchased it for about 2 GBP from Ebay.  I did some thinking (and playing), noting that fans were creating montages of scenes from the famous Das Boot film, overlaying in-game footage with an accompanying narrative in the form of subtitles and posting these (as they do for many other games – especially ‘COD’, from my experience of all-boys Standard Grade classes) on Youtube. (#1 & #2)

Confirmed for me was what I had suspected in the re-definition of what is a ‘text’ formalized in the Curriculum for Excellence: Literacy and English – Principles and Practice (LTScotland, p. 4).  Here lay the opportunity to do cross-curricular with – at the very least – History, Geography and ICT.

So, for the past few months – most of which has been a very enjoyable, with the odd difficulty here and there – I have been trialing my development with an excellent S2 class and a very helpful Computing Teacher who facilitated in providing a room with enough PCs; the Technician deserves similar praise in installing what became 15 copies of S.H. (10 of which were at personal expense and all from Ebay/Amazon Marketplace) and the two ‘Single Missions’ I created using the program’s ‘Mission Editor’: dropping merchant ships in the Atlantic when recreating Patrol 4 (12th April – 22nd May 1941) against HX-121 and HG-61; placing a plethora of vessels, Swordfish aircraft, mines and a wolf pack of U-boats at the Straits of Gibraltar for Patrol 7 (27th October – 06th December 1941) against OS-10.

Pupils have immersed themselves (pun intended) in the life of a Kriegsmarine crewmember on board the U-96 during two of its Atlantic Patrols.  They have consulted non-fiction texts, personal accounts, diagrams, German Navy Grid System maps, clippings from Das Boot and re-creating (with the help of u-boat.net and Google Maps) two actual patrols undertaken by U-96 between April and December 1941.  Pupils responded through functional and imaginative responses, and choice was a key consideration, using non-fiction texts with diagrams as well as pure narrative to convey technical information; I plan to offer the same ‘carousel’ approach next year.  Pupils have read about the hydroplanes, but when they get a chance to command the ship itself and use the ‘external camera view’ they really see the causal connection – the planes in operation and the ship surface/submerge.

Assessment? I think that a metaphorical form of assessment suits Literacy Outcomes very well, adopting one that fits the context of the aspect of study.  For instance, a ‘Ranks and Awards’ metaphor was used to good effect, whereupon pupils progress from Submarine School and begin their careers across the ranks of Seaman (Matrose), Able Seaman (Matrose-Gefreiter) and Leading Seaman (Matrose-Obergefreiter); ‘Award Badges’ were also awarded when the pupil displayed competency or understanding in a particular activity or technical element. 

Outcome? Technical difficulties hampered the collation of in-game footage – a consideration for next year, should technical difficulties persist, would be to have a bank of event clips to cover all aspects of their narrative structure – but pupils superimposed their narrative against still images within Powerpoint.

Pupils have been working in collaborative groups (2-4) and thinking in the four dimensional space of their character’s ‘world’, both boys and girls alike experienced the frustration at plotting a convoy … undertaking watch… encountering a clear-blue horizon and a silent hydrophone; I have seen the most unlikely candidates express distress and excitement at an oncoming destroyer as it fills their periscope view.

With crews not exceeding 44 men for a Type VIIC submarine, the class teacher can have pupils draw names of actual navy men that served aboard the U-96, giving them an additional dimension to their imaginative and functional writing activities.  I am scheduled, with the History Department committed and perhaps offering in parallel a similar activity based on the Destroyer Command simulation game; other departments have expressed real interest but I think will need more convincing.  The plan is to fully implement what will be a 12-week unit during the January-April 2012 term for the next cohort of S2.

Today, complete with a couple of bottles of port for the aforementioned colleagues as tokens of my appreciation, I say “Auf Wiedersehen” to the excellent cohort from S2 (who, of course, signed and sent ‘Thank You’ cards) as we change timetable, and they enter Standard Grade and I contemplate the Microsoft Project plan, the directory of digital resources, the Revell Model Kit, the keyboard layout, the Leverarch folder of texts, the Kriegsmarine Map on the wall…

For my next project – English and Science – Orbiter!

Evolving Literacies in the New Curriculum

Originally posted on the Scottish Book Trust teachers blog

Like many teachers in Scotland at the moment, I am trying to evolve my classroom practice to encompass the spirit of Curriculum for Excellence. Below is a little of what I have discovered in developing and delivering a new unit for S2 on vibrations and waves – sound, light and radiations beyond the visible.

Firstly, I set out to write an exemplar teacher’s guide covering from first principles, the route through and some resources supporting the course. I started with the experiences and outcomes within the curriculum suborganiser and then looked across to the other curricular areas to see what I could pull in to enrich the experience. Needless to say, it was a much bigger task than I anticipated.

Secondly, my second year classes are no walk in the park. One particular day, twenty minutes into a period, having failed even so much as to get the learning intentions shared, I finally blew: I don’t have time to recount the details here but I had the class write me an essay on why I should even bother trying to teach them. What came out of that exercise were several examples of passionate, articulate and intelligent writing.

One example worth quoting from had:
“… I was doing well in first year and now I’m doing worse than I was last year because people in this class have wasted my opportunities for my dream job as a chemist.”

These responses brought me up sharply as I realised that the children already had developed literacy skills, enough to express the frustrations some of them were experiencing.

I saw my task as being to provide them a context within which they could develop these, possibly to a higher order. Two things emerged.

Listening and hearing – active engagement in traditionally passive learning
I thought of Pauk’s Cornell method and set a variant of it in context in the new unit. I was intending on using video extracts to support the learning, including one small 7-minute piece from Julian Treasure on sound health. I had the children make messy, contemporaneous notes on the key things that struck them as the video played. I made my own at the same time, then used these to challenge the children on the content of the video they had just seen. I was impressed by the quality of some of the notes – some hadn’t bothered – and the ability of those who had the key points noted down, to answer even the most difficult questions on the content. This was a rich seam for assessment of developing skills, providing evidence and opportunity. A good example* was from a girl, normally not a big hitter in the summative tests, who enthusiastically used the powerful weapon of good notes to outclass the others in her responses. The point was well made. Many students now take notes as I am talking to them.

Using new media and HHD
The other thing that impressed me in the class response to the new unit was how the childrens’ literacy overlaps and includes digital media fluency. I had another enthusiastic response from several pupils who, when asked if they had anything to share for (optional) homework, produced mobile phones with recordings of sounds they had made, answers to questions and even a video* submitted by email.

It is clear to me that the boundaries are being reset on literacy. Our task as teachers is to make sure we ourselves are sufficiently competent in the new literacies in order to challenge and develop children within them.

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