Discovering Similarities and Differences In Cinematography

Classroom Context:

As previously stated in my first implementation of an instructional strategy, the school that I have taught at is a private Christian school. Since I teach elective classes, they allow me to create my own curriculum by basing it around the school’s vision and goals. I have implemented the strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences in my junior high technology class and my review of this strategy can be viewed here: https://joannakharmon.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/strategy-2-identifying-similarities-and-differences/

This class is filled with 7th and 8th grade students and the majority of the class is boys with an exception of a few girls. The goal of this junior high elective is for students to see a range of creative technologies such as the Office suite, graphic design, and videography. The objective is that students learn an overview of specific tools and programs that they can then dig deeper in through high school classes, which they will have the opportunity to take in the future. The students are coming into class with an understanding of technological devices but almost every student has no experience with the editing programs. Some students have used aspects of the Office suite but it is amazing to see how basic their understanding of these everyday programs are. The class is highly energetic and it is important to hold their attention so that they don’t miss any important information that they will need when stepping into class projects.

In this unit, I am introducing the art form of cinematography and begin by teaching students the basics of what makes a well-framed shot. I am implementing the strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences by showing the students a range of different example clips. I will continue to allow time after each clips for students to point out the similarities and differences that they are seeing in these clips. Note that some of these examples will be beautiful shots, while others will be proof of what not to do.

Learning Goal Specification:

EALR 2. Visual Arts: The student uses the artistic processes of creating, performing/presenting, and responding to demonstrate thinking skills in visual arts.

GLE 2.3.1 Applies a responding process to visual arts.

Supportive Description:

This class has already learned about Office Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Adobe Photoshop. The students have been given many opportunities to express their unique perspectives by applying their growing knowledge and skills of these programs. Since the art of cinematography is quite different compared to the tangible programs that they have previously learned, this will be a concept that they will need to grasp that they can then put into practice. The strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences is an excellent approach in this situation because it will help students better understand this new concept of being a good cinematographer. Dean et al (2012) states, “These strategies help move students from existing knowledge to new knowledge, concrete to abstract, and separate to connected ideas” (p. 119). Students will not only learn the main components of cinematography, but also how to create a good shot.

Outcomes Predicted:

The strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences was actually applied in the context described above and did indeed have positive effects. I had the students watch a various amount of clips that not only showed styles of cinematography but also shots that were poorly executed. I utilized the white board and had students tell me what shots were similar and which ones were different. We then branched out from these similarities and differences and discussed the attributes that these clips did or did not have in common. Students discussed a variety of components such as close up dialogue shots that were framed well compared to scenes that had a tilted camera to create the effect of unease.

The students were also able to pick out the shots that were examples of what not to do. I was actually surprised by how easily students were able to recognize these and I think it is because students are very exposed to professionally made movies and television and naturally expect a certain look. I found that they could see that something was wrong, but could not fully express why because we had yet to introduce all of the proper academic language for cinematography. This provided an opportunity for me to guide the students through a series of questions that helped them discover the specific aspects of these poorly framed shots that had a negative effect on the end product. Students were then able to move into their first video assignment with an understanding of what to do and what not to do. In conclusion, the strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences was an impactful approach in this junior high technology class because it gave students a context for the newly introduced skill of cinematography.

Artifacts:

  • Powerpoint Example: This is the Powerpoint presentation that I used to first introduce students to the concept of cinematography. It starts with some key terms and then ends at the segment where I showed cinematography examples for students to identify similarities and differences.
  • Strategy 2 Sample Lesson: View this sample lesson plan from my cinematography unit to see how I planned to implement the strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences in this context.

References

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Strategy 2: Identifying Similarities and Differences

Identifying Similarities and Differences is a teaching strategy that uses the concepts of comparing and contrasting knowledge so that students can better understand the subject matter. The specific strategies inside this category are comparing, classifying, creating metaphors and creating analogies (Dean et al, 2012). Comparing is when students differentiate subjects based on their similarities and differences. Classifying is when students divide the subject matter into categories based on their similarities. Creating metaphors is when students can find patterns among the subject matter and relate them to similar patterns that they are aware of. Creating analogies is when students pair together concepts to better understand the components of the knowledge (Dean et al, 2012).  The main recommendations for implementing the strategy of Indentifying Similarities and Differences is to first show students how to correctly use this approach, then allow time for them to practice while also guiding them through the process with cues and questions (Dean et al, 2012).

Key Research Findings:

  • With curriculum that is constantly changing and growing, this is a flexible approach that allows students to make connections with what they are learning in the classroom to the world around them (Dean et al, 2012).
  • This approach can be useful in teaching students with learning disabilities because it helps them categorize the world around them (Tarver, 1986).
  • Teachers can utilize technological resources that allow students to visually identify similarities and differences through computer software programs (Pitler et al, 2007).

Implementation:

  1. Guide students through this approach by first modeling what you would like students to do. Do this with different examples until students feel confident to utilize the strategy themselves.
  2. Provide students with visual organizers such as Venn diagrams or charts so that they can see the relationships that the information creates.
  3. Allow students to identify similarities and differences in collaborative small groups while giving them corrective feedback.
  4. When possible, ask students to summarize information so that they can draw conclusions from this strategy’s outcomes.
  5. Use student directed tasks and teacher directed tasks so that students can practice both elements of this approach.
  6. Use this strategy when introducing concepts that may be foreign to students and allow them to apply a creative process to it. An example from Video Production classes that I have taught is applying this strategy when teaching students the difference between good and bad cinematography.

Additional Resources:

  • For descriptions of teacher directed and student directed tasks, go to http://www.pavilioncsd.org/webpages/mnoble/research-based.cfm?subpage=1250793
  • The process of Identifying Similarities and Differences can be a visual process where students divide their thoughts through the medium of a chart or diagram. To download blank templates that can be utilized in classrooms, go to http://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/Templates/similarities_differences.htm
  • This strategy gives room for students to contemplate key knowledge while also applying their unique views and creativity. An example of this can be seen in my graphic design students’ work where they were asked to pick an everyday word or phrase, which contains different components and then making a visual representation of it (see examples below).

House Fly:

House Fly

Horse Fly:

Horse Fly

Couch Potato:

Couch Potato

 

References

Implementing Cooperative Learning in Video Production

Classroom Context:

My school is a private school, and they have given me free range on what the curriculum standards will be in this elective. The school expects me to expand the students’ knowledge of video production while applying their own unique perspective and creativity in this visual art form. I will still base my learning goals on EALRS for better implementation of my chosen teaching strategy of Cooperative Learning. To see my review of this instructional strategy, go to https://joannakharmon.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/strategy-entry-1-cooperative-learning/#comments.

The school works in a collaborative environment where teachers are encouraged to use each other as a resource; they are not only encouraging teachers to implement Collaborative Learning in the classroom but also with colleagues. The equipment that are available to me are desktop computers are equipped with Premiere Elements (the video editing software program that we will be using), and the room is also stocked with 8 Flip cameras and 8 tripods. Since I do not have enough resources for students to each have a camera and a computer, Cooperative Learning is an excellent approach for video production because they have to learn to share the class’ resources. I have 3 ELL students in this class and they require extra instruction, check-ins and written instruction. The strategy of Cooperative Learning gives the opportunity for other students to come alongside their peers who need extra assistance since this class is comprised of many different grade levels and learning styles.

Concerning academic development, most of the students come into class with general knowledge of video production from what they have learned from social culture. This elective has a diverse range of learners from freshmen to high school students. These students also understand how to work with the technology that they are familiar with like multi-function devices. Previous lessons have given students a new perspective of video production; where they not only understand how to use video production tools but how to use them to create visual art. Cooperative Learning will not only teach students the skills of editing a music video, but also give them practice of working together as a team. In past lessons, I have already implemented Cooperative Learning by placing students in “film groups” where each student chose their role for the “Music Video Project” (director, writer, cinematographer, etc). This learning segment has been a continuing experience of Cooperative Learning where different aspects of the strategy have been implemented.

Learning Goal Specification:

Visual Arts EALR 2: The student uses the artistic processes of creating, performing/presenting, and responding to demonstrate thinking skills in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts. Component 2.1: Applies a creative process to visual arts (Identifies, explores, gathers, interprets, uses, implements, reflects, refines, and presents).

Supportive Description:

As stated in the classroom context, this class is a diverse range of ages and technological experience. Dean et al (2012) states, “Cooperative Learning provides an environment in which students can reflect upon their newly acquired knowledge…” (p. 37). Video editing is a fairly new concept for this group of students, and they need a lot of practice to develop this skill while also applying their creativity. The implementation of this strategy will allow the students to deepen their knowledge of the subject matter by working together to create a finished music video by the end of this learning segment. Cooperative Learning will also be a tool that allows students to reach the learning goals, as they will be able to grow through applying their creativity and learning from the unique perspectives of their peers.

Implementation and Outcomes Predicted:

The strategy of Cooperative Learning has already been applied in this video editing unit when I divided students into their film groups. In these groups these were given specific instructions to each take different leadership roles on their film team. The first aspect was writing a script for their music video, filming, and now they need to edit their footage. This project is divided into different sections so that each individual student is given the opportunity to lead the Cooperative Learning at different times throughout the project. Students were allowed to choose any piece of music that was also approved by myself because copywriting laws allow the use of media in a learning context through educational institutions.

At this point, students not only know how to use the computers, but they know how to use two video editing programs called Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Premiere Elements. Even though students have already been able to practice Cooperative Learning through writing and filming, the editing portion of this project will create a lot of opportunity for Cooperative Learning. I will guide students through the group discussions that they will need to have with their film team to make important editing decisions. I predict that some students will do very well in this area while others will have a harder time agreeing with the majority of the group. Students will be using their unique perspectives and creativity to edit, which means that there is no one-way to edit their project. This will frustrate students who prefer doing things their way rather than hearing other student’s opinions.

Concerning social and emotional development, this video production class is an interesting mix of ages, temperaments, and maturity levels. The students are all growing at different paces and from different places. Even though some students are in higher grades, I predict that will not be a defining factor in the students’ progress because that truly depends on each student’s technological background. However, I do also foresee the older students working together better through Cooperative Learning because they have had more time to socially mature. When implementing Cooperative Learning in this class, I created the groups based on the students’ skill levels rather than on their ages. I predict that this will prove to be a good strategy so that students are forced to work with each other rather than lean on what may seem to be the “stronger” students in their film groups. Through the strategy of Cooperative Learning, I also foresee the students realizing that their fellow peers are resources and learn to turn to each other with questions whenever I might be busy with another student.

Artifacts:

  • Lesson Plan Example: View this sample lesson plan to see one of my lessons in this video editing unit. The implementation of Cooperative Learning proved to be an effective tool in teaching students how to import music into their editing timelines.
  • Music Video Example: Look at the following link to see an example of one of the group’s finished music videos: https://vimeo.com/70833669. This film group was comprised of students who all worked together very well through their assigned roles. Their silent film was a new and interesting take on the idea of music videos and it was clearly evident that they were proud of their progress and newly developed video production skills.

References