Thursday, March 27, 2014

Digital Age Learning: Student Creations Lead to Authentic Opportunities

Students in Kim Caster's French Culture course at Edina High School have been studying French Romantic Comedies, including the movie, Amelie. These senior students have been learning about the use of style, location and comparing French cinema with American films. As an assessment, Caster asked the students to create a product that demonstrated:
a)      An understanding of romantic comedies and how they are different from American Romantic Comedies.  
b)      An understanding of JP Jeunet’s unique and different filmmaking style.  
c)       An understanding of the use of interesting, romantic, and popular sites in Paris and various secondary and tertiary side characters become a part of the major part of Jeunet’s films.
d)      An understanding of the use stereotypical roles of men and women in film in order to maintain the formula or break the formula of a romantic comedy.
e) A combination of 2 or more of the above explained in a way you can use your French and add precision of grammar, complexity and vocabulary into the presentation and discussion.  

One group created a trailer for Amelie as a horor film.



Another group created an infographic using Piktochart to compare and contrast French and American Film.



And then there was this...




Emma Westbrook, Claire Jensen, and Naomi Reiner have been visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Arts with their families since they were little. Westbrook, an aspiring artist and film maker, spends time at the museum drawing, and thought that the MIA would be a great location to stage a film.
They reviewed the guidelines about filming in the museum and realized that it would work as a location. Westbrook wrote the script and directed the movie, Jensen was both an actor as well as editor, and Reiner recruited fellow senior Peter Illig to act in the film, served as continuity expert, and shlepped the equipment and clothing around as they filmed.
They chose the artwork based on their knowledge of the collection, and the fact that the gallery had a bench in front of the artwork, and was less crowded than other locations.
After they submitted the link to the finished film, Caster tweeted out the link. After watching the film and being extremely impressed with the digital storytelling on display, and the elements of film-making they used, I sent out a tweet to my high school friend, Douglas Hegley, who just happens to be the Director of Technology at the MIA. His response:


Yesterday, Kim and the students visited with Hegley and the staff at MIA.


Edina Students meeting with Minneapolis Institute of Arts staff
Learning about upcoming MIA projects and providing feedback on future museum project
Along with congratulating the students on their work, Hegley noted that,
"this is exactly the type of thing we want people doing here, using our space to create!"
The Institute is working to become more "audience centric," and a "home away from home" for its visitors. Museum staff shared their backgrounds with the students, and how they are gearing up for 2015, which will be the building's 100th Anniversary. The students were invited to share ideas on what they might include in the 100 30-90 second films the staff are working to produce. Museum staff want people to feel connected to the art, and for the films to be character driven, similar to the film the students created! When asked what would encourage them to see a film about the collection, the students said, "people interacting with the art, and information about the history of the items."
Caster was excited about future possibilities of bringing students to the space, providing them with some basic guidelines and then inviting them to explore and create. 
This project is a small example of how an open ended inquiry based learning opportunity can lead to authentic opportunities, and the importance of creation in the learning process. I hope it inspires other staff and students to think outside the classroom walls to make connections with their learning.
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