Film Shaping Minds

Welcome to the ’13-’14 school year.

This week we are kicking off our ’13-’14 AY Moving Images-Moving Forward blog.

The mission of our blog is to provide film and media literacy resources to middle school, high school, and college educators.  In this space, we will create conversations about film analysis related resources, classroom activities, and pedagogy.  We will also provide interactive discussions that you can use in your classrooms.

Every Monday at 9AM (Mountain) we will post a film literacy resource, classroom activity, or educational discussion.

This week Executive Director, Laurie Chin Sayres discusses:

  1. the importance of being film and media literate; and
  2. why it’s important to bring film analysis into history classes.

Please comment below or discuss with us on 

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Film Shaping Minds

by Laurie Chin Sayres

Molly-with-Light-GALS

Film camp student explores moving images and lighting.

In many years of teaching students at multiple levels, one truth has become clear to me: students, even those having the benefit of strong curricula and innovative teaching methods, often lack the ability to effectively understand how images shape their understanding of events and how they view the world.

Therefore, it is critical that we bring film and media literacy into our classrooms to:

1) equip students with critical thinking skills;

2) engage students with the educational process; and

3) provide students with the skills necessary to be capable citizens.

We often downplay or even ignore the influence moving images have on our understanding of the world because we consider movies and TV to be entertainment only.  Although I agree that film and television primarily serve as entertainment in our society, making the assumption that movies and TV do not shape the way see the world simply because these moving images may not influence our factual reality is dangerous. This dismissive perspective prevents us from bringing film into our educational system in any meaningful capacity.

Our understanding of the world is formed by personal interaction with people, places, and things, and in large part, by movie and TV images.  Once we see something it becomes a visual reality—even if not a factual reality.  For example, we know that Jaws is not a real shark, yet the moving images of the animatronic shark have clearly shaped our collective image of great white sharks and our behaviors towards the ocean and beach culture.

Similar to reading illiteracy, students who cannot decode or think critically about moving images are at a disadvantage because they do not have the ability to navigate a world saturated with moving images.  To help students become media literate and understand the role of images in shaping the way they see the world, it is important to shift from talking about thematic content to analyzing moving images from a visual and technical perspective.

Helping students read and decode moving images includes teaching them about the components of images, from camera framing to lighting to editing. With this knowledge, students will be able to see and discuss the ways images convey certain ideas and attitudes. An effective hands-on vehicle to teach these lessons is film production. This tactile approach adds an important dimension to students’ understanding of film literacy.

Armed with film literacy skills, students will then be able to engage in critical thinking conversations about how moving images shape our ideas and perspectives, providing students with valuable education and life skills. For example, students will be able to discuss the ways extreme close-up (XCU) shots have the ability to convey more intimate emotion and the ways lighting can shape the attitude we have toward the subjects in the image.

It is no secret that once we leave the classroom we find ourselves in a world where its understanding of history is largely shaped by media images, not academic study.  So, let’s bring film into social studies classrooms to help students navigate both the academic study of history and also our collective popular culture image of the past—the version of history our society uses to make many of its decisions.

A discussion example can be found in Glory.  This 1989 film ends with the camera first zooming into a close-up of several dead African-American Civil War soldiers, then the camera moves in even closer to see the one white officer who agreed to lead this regiment, dead in the trenches. Would the idea of the past have been different if the film ended a few scenes earlier with a medium shot of soldiers both charging their enemies and also falling to the bayonet? Both scenes can be construed as “factually accurate,” yet visually each scene leaves audiences with a very different picture of the past.

Once students recognize that film images have influence on the ways we think they respond with enthusiasm. For they are now able to think critically about the moving images that surround them in the classroom and as they move throughout their lives.

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Sign up for our e-newsletter for more lesson plans and classroom conversations. Click here. 

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Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.

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Making Images I

Welcome to the Labragirl Film Project’s weekly film literacy discussion. Every Monday morning Labragirl provides a resource, activity, or methodological discussion to help incorporate film analysis into your classroom.

Last week we introduced students to three different types of shots commonly used in film and television.  

This week we build on Taking Film I’s content by adding in basic film production skills.

Please comment below or discuss with us on 

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Making Images I

700-Movie-Reel

Classroom Discussion/Activity Synopsis: 

This week’s Moving Images-Moving Forward conversation builds upon last week’s discussion about three film shots commonly used in film. This week we are going to add in basic film production skills to helps students explore the similarities and differences between the Medium, Close Up, and Extreme Close Up shots further. This week’s exercise will give students hands on experience creating and discussing their own shots.

Grade Level: Middle School & High School

Educational Goals:

  • Introduce students to film analysis & reading
  • Introduce students to basis film production skills
  • Incorporate film analysis into classroom discussions
  • Provide students with an understanding of different film shots
  • Enable students to participate in discussions about film analysis & film production
  • Encourage students to navigate critical thinking discussions about moving images
Exercise Philosophy:

The goals behind this exercise are to:

  • equip students with the necessary language to engage in film analysis discussions
  • introduce students to film production

Providing students with film production knowledge and experience will help them participate in film reading and film analysis discussions. Film production experience will also help them navigate the complexity of creating moving images, enabling them to have a more comprehensive understanding of the medium of film.

Exercise Activity & Process:

Last week we introduced students to three different types of shots commonly used in film and television:

  • Medium Shot
  • Close Up Shot
  • Extreme Close Up Shot

This week students will create these three different types of shots on their own.

If you have a video camera that’s great, but it’s not necessary. Any smartphone with a video camera will work just fine.

1) Review your discussion from Talking Film I.

2) Break students into groups of three to four people.

3) Have students take turns in the “cinematographer” role. Instruct each student to:

  •    Create a Medium, Close Up, and Extreme Close Up shot of a person 
  •    Create a Medium, Close Up, and Extreme Close Up shot of an inanimate object 

4) Discuss the experience and the images the students create. Some possible discussion questions include:

What did you think about the process? 
How do your images compare to the ones we discussed in Talking Film I?
What did you think about when you were creating the three different types of shots? What things did you have to consider? 
How could you put the shots you took together to create a story? How does the different framing help tell the story?

Did you use this exercise in class? How did it go?

We’d love to hear from you.

Please comment below or discuss with us on .

*Disclaimer: All movie & television clips are suggestions for class use, only. All instructors should screen clips to determine if they are appropriate to use in their classrooms. 

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UP NEXT 4/15: Guest blog by Media Literacy professional Greg Williams at The Relevant Classroom.

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Sign up for our e-newsletter for more lesson plans and classroom conversations. Click here. 

———————————————————————————————————————–

Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.

———————————————————————————————————————–

Previous Blog Entries

Talking Film I

Downton Abbey in Your Class #1 – Roll Sound!

Reading Film

Fictional Projections of History

Think Globally Using Film

Our Relationship with Movies

Moving Past Historical Accuracy

Images Telling Stories

Film Shaping History

Think Film Images

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©2013 Labragirl Film Project. All rights reserved.

Talking Film I

Welcome to the Labragirl Film Project’s weekly film literacy discussion. Every Monday morning Labragirl provides a resource, activity, or methodological discussion to help incorporate film analysis into your classroom.

Last week we turned to TV images with our discussion about Downton Abbey.

This week we are going to provide a brief introduction to the language of film. Once students start to understand how to describe what they are seeing it will become easier for them to analyze moving images.

Do you use film in your classroom?

How do you introduce your students to film production?

Please comment below or discuss with us on 

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Talking Film I

700-Movie-Reel

Classroom Discussion/Activity Synopsis: 

This week’s Moving Images-Moving Forward conversation introduces students to three different types of film shots. We also encourage you to discuss the different image types with your students.

Grade Level: Any level

Educational Goals:

  • Introduce students to film analysis & reading
  • Incorporate film analysis into classroom discussions
  • Provide students with an understanding of different film shots
  • Enable students to participate in discussions about film analysis & film production
  • Encourage students to navigate critical thinking discussions about moving images
Exercise Philosophy:

The goals behind this exercise are to:

  • equip students with the necessary language to engage in film analysis discussions
  • introduce students to film production

Providing students with film production knowledge will help them participate in film reading and film analysis discussions.

Exercise Activity & Process:

1) Review images of Medium, Close Up, and Extreme Close Up shots. (See examples below.)

Mid or Medium Shot (MS)

Medium Shot {Click on image for source info.}

Medium Shot {Click on image for source info.}

Close Up Shot (CU)

Close Up Shot {Click on image for source info.}

Close Up Shot {Click on image for source info.}

Extreme Close Up (ECU or XCU)

Extreme Close Up Shot {Click on Image for Source Info.}

Extreme Close Up Shot {Click on Image for Source Info.}

2) Engage in a discussion about these three different film shots. Some possible questions include:

  • What are some similarities between these three types of shots? Differences?
  • Why would you choose one over another? 
  • If you wanted to convey happiness, anger, excitement, or any other emotion of your choice which shot would you choose? Why?
  • If one of the Extreme Close Up shots above become a Medium Shot how would the story change?

3) Ask students to find an image of a Medium Shot, Close Up and Extreme Close Up. Discuss.

Did you use any of these discussions or activities in your classroom? How did it go?

We’d love to hear from you.

Please comment below or discuss with us on .

*Disclaimer: All movie & television clips are suggestions for class use, only. All instructors should screen clips to determine if they are appropriate to use in their classrooms. 

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UP NEXT 4/8: Making Images I

Labragirl FP-logo-color-reverse

   

Sign up for our e-newsletter for more lesson plans and classroom conversations. Click here. 

———————————————————————————————————————–

Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.

———————————————————————————————————————–

Previous Blog Entries

Downton Abbey in Your Class #2 – Today in the Past

Downton Abbey in Your Class #1 – Roll Sound!

Reading Film

Fictional Projections of History

Think Globally Using Film

Our Relationship with Movies

Moving Past Historical Accuracy

Images Telling Stories

Film Shaping History

Think Film Images

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©2013 Labragirl Film Project. All rights reserved.