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Archive for the ‘Media Literacy’ Category

Screen Shot 2022-02-25 at 12.56.28 PMSeveral years ago, the Journal of Media Literacy Education published my article The Role of Collaboration and Feedback in Advancing Student Learning in Media Literacy and Video Production.  In this piece, I discuss examples of public service announcements for safe driving initiatives.  Safe driving is certainly one of the most common topics of PSA campaigns for high schools since this issue is one of the most directly impactful for American teens.  This fall, my students produced pieces for the Just Drive campaign sponsored by the Impact Teen Drivers program.  

For this project, students examine approaches to the creation of advertisements and other forms of promotional messaging, along with informational segments for a variety of media.  They develop and pitch their own concepts in pre-production workshops and then devise approaches to produce their pieces.

Screen Shot 2022-02-25 at 1.03.30 PMFor this particular initiative, a strong range of messages were created.  One project was created by a two-person team; theirs, titled Just a Second, turned out to be an award-winning piece.  Another group of three students worked together by each writing and directing their own piece while crewing or acting in each others’ projects.  Yet another PSA was crafted by a student working alone, and he created a piece that hinged on a single visual idea designed for stark impact.  Check out these others here: Cut Short, Lucky, and Don’t.

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The steady, very significant rise of horror films in popularity over the past several years has been striking to observe in the media literacy classroom. The increasingly significant number of students who select horror filmmakers and movies as topics of investigation for reports, analyses, and sources of inspiration — and most notably female students — is reflected in the stunning range of horror creations across motion picture media types today, from feature films to streaming series to interactive games and points in between and beyond.  In fact, currently, for her final project in Advanced Video Production one of my students is working on a documentary called The Evolution of Horror in which she traces the history of horror filmmaking from the first years of cinema to now.   

That said, horror is certainly a genre that can present a variety of issues when addressed in a classroom setting.  One series that can give educators some ideas of current and recent horror media from across the globe (and often off the beaten path) is the series Five Horror Movies to Stream Now from The New York Times.  Here is a recent edition from this series.  It’s your decision whether the pieces are tricks or treats.  Happy Halloween!

P.S.: Check out this informative piece — ‘Being a Woman is Full of Horror’ : Female Directors Discuss Their Craftpublished in February of 2022, again from the New York Times, for interviews with current women mediamakers (including Prano Bailey-Bond, Kate Dolan, Charlotte Colbert, and others)  exploring the diverse worlds of horror and suspense motion picture storytelling.

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Screen Shot 2022-07-25 at 10.16.24 AMIn an earlier post, I discussed ways in which student work can document history (often unconsciously) and some projects may become messages that resonate as testimonials to their time, place, and people.  

In addition, there have been many examples in these pages of how PSAs are strong vehicles for video production tasks in school communities.  With the onset of a global pandemic, our schools have had to confront some of the most distinct challenges faced by educators in a multitude of ways, and here is one example of a series of PSAs made to share with students as they returned to school at the height of the pandemic, before any vaccines were available.  Undoubtedly, this piece and others created during these months and years provide particular testimonials of these contexts in a unique time and place for American public schools.

Screen Shot 2022-07-26 at 9.50.28 AMPostscript: In early 2022, as schools began to shift to ceasing mask restrictions and shifting to fully in-person classroom instruction, the advanced video production class I teach quickly created (two-day turnaround time, in response to a central administration request) a PSA that could be used in all schools.  Here is the video that a team of four of my students produced.

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Screen Shot 2022-02-25 at 10.21.11 AMAcross the United States, many local news stations and educational programs offer platforms for students to develop skills in news reporting through the production of pieces that may be selected for broadcasting or streaming.  These news reports can cover a wide range of types of media journalism, from feature pieces to hard news to community events to business stories to other categories.

As discussed in Chapter 6 of Moving Images (“Recording and Presenting Reality”), one of the most difficult tasks facing students when developing non-fiction projects is finding a topic that is newsworthy, compelling, and manageable.  In the classroom, this part of the process can provide some of the greatest challenges for teachers.  It is critical to develop a process so that students can hone their abilities to investigate, analyze, and assess sources of material and approaches to portraying the stories they depict.  

Once students have determined topics for investigation, they work on pre-production.  With such a wide range of types of news projects, there are many approaches that can be taken with the material, and valuable pre-production elements can be two-column scripts, story breakdowns, interview questions and contacts, time-sensitive events, scheduling, and related considerations.  Students must ask: what are my images – first-person reporting, interviews, recording of events, b-roll or cutaways, archival, or other types?  At the same time: what is the audio – sound recorded with the aforementioned images, voiceover, ambient tracks, or other elements?  With all of this, some of the most powerful challenges that can be faced are ones of logistics, particularly if people involved with these topics need to be contacted and met.   

Screen Shot 2022-02-25 at 11.40.08 AMNon-fiction projects are core elements to the work in Moving Images.  In the realm of news reporting, for several years my students have been producing pieces that have been shared with the Student News program in Connecticut.  Here are links to two pieces that have aired as part of the program.  The first was an award nominee for this year (by Craig Gnatek, Brennen Yourous, and Tristan Skorupski): Suffield Agriscience Gives Boost to Gardening, and another featured work by Aiden Dultz was Businesses Helping Businesses

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How did a character from Matt Furie’s comic Boy’s Club become one of the mega-memes to end all viral meme characters?  Yup, it’s Pepe the Frog.  Do you even know where Pepe comes from?  How he became a symbol of powerful forces of provocation and extremist alt-right political views today?  And what does its creator have to say about how this came to be and what he can do about it?

If interested, check out more info on the Sundance Award-winning documentary Feels Good Man. Director by Arthur Jones leads us on an investigation of the webverse that many of us, particularly today’s students, inhabit here and now.

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