Working with a group of non-certificated staff was a unique experience for me, because their creativity was super charged and unbound by the reservations that certificated staff members usually have about standards and pacing. They were wholly enthusiastic and eager to begin to find their own voices as authors. We worked on several different hands-on projects, including a modified Door Challenge (from Frank Guttler's AFI curriculum), the Suspense Challenge (from my own film challenge curriculum), and blackout poetry.
I have written blackout poems with students for several years, because it's a fun way for students to begin exploring the poetic writing process. Often, students have fears about writing poems. Here are a few common apprehensions I've heard over the years:
- What will I write about?
- What if I can't think of anything?
- What words are best? How do I choose the right words?
- Is my poetry going to be good enough? Will others like it?
- Am I saying something important?
It always amazes me how much poetry can intimidate even the most confident student. Because blackout poems emerge from text that has already been written, there is a lot less pressure to think up words. Instead, writing a blackout poem is an exercise is creativity and problem solving, as students rise to the challenge of re-imagining existing text as something new. Last year, one of my students submitted a blackout poem for the DigiCom Film Festival. The festival producers asked me to record an introduction to the poem to help contextualize the project:
At this particular workshop, participants had a variety of movie making tools at their disposal. Some chose to record video using smart phones, some used iPads, and others lugged around Macbooks and used the iSight camera to film. To get footage from one device to a Macbook for editing, participants used Dropbox and Google Drive to accomplish the task. In the end, some really great products emerged from the experience:
I am so happy I had the opportunity to work with a such a fantastic group of enthusiastic staff members! Already, I am looking forward to my next DigiCom Institute engagement in June, when I will facilitate a five day workshop on effectively integrating digital storytelling into the classroom.