When I was a middle school teacher I was inspired to create an end of the year Shakespeare film project for my gifted language arts classes. For the film project, the students read a middle school version of one of Shakespeare’s plays (Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Othello or Hamlet). Students then brainstorm ideas to put a modern twist on the play, while incorporating key plot elements, themes and characters. The students hire for film jobs and the class is run like a movie set. I serve as the executive producer (facilitating) as students write, direct and edit their own Shakespeare short film.
I serve as the executive producer (facilitating)
When I started the project more than 10 years ago, I was filming my students re-enactments of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth with a point and shoot Kodak camera. Eventually, I received a Donors Choose grant for a small HD video camera. In 2013, I was fortunate to receive the Atlanta Families Award for Excellence in Education (AFAEE) grant to outfit my classroom like a movie studio with all the equipment students would need to create their short films.
My students began using a professional video camera. We incorporated green screen technology so our film settings would only be limited by the students’ imagination. We began using professional software (Adobe Premiere Pro) to edit the films. My goal is to provide a real-world experience, where students serve as directors, directors of photography, writers, actors, film crew and editors.
Why not Shakespeare! As an English Education major, I remember the daunting task of reading and understanding Shakespeare. I have worked with struggling students in remedial reading classes as well as gifted learners. I want to provide students an opportunity to challenge themselves and experience success.
My goal is to expose students to Shakespeare in middle school, so when they get to high school and are required to read the full text of Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth or Hamlet, they will have some prior experience. With background knowledge they will feel less intimidated and successfully engage with the complex text. Creating the end of the year films has become my passion project.
The Project Expands
When I started in my current role as an Educational Technology Specialist, I hoped to continue working with students to make films. Providing students the opportunity to work collaboratively, communicate appropriately, use critical thinking and demonstrate creativity are essential real-world and career skills.
In the four years since I left the classroom, I have worked with students from Brown, Young, Bunche, King and Inman middle schools to create Shakespeare inspired films. At the end of the year, I hold a Shakespeare Fest and the students watch their own film as well as the films from the other schools. They complete an evaluation for each film, critiquing the storyline, video quality, acting and editing, The Film Fest provides the students the opportunity to be critical viewers.
Providing students the opportunity to work collaboratively, communicate appropriately, use critical thinking and demonstrate creativity are essential real-world and career skills.
Years ago, when we started reading the plays I was focused on building literacy skills. My language arts class was unit/project-based. I initially created my “Salute to Shakespeare” unit which over time morphed into the "Lights, Camera, Action!" Film Project. My idea for students creating their own film was to provide them a real-world learning opportunity. Having students take a test or write a paper doesn't foster deep learning and appreciation for a topic or literature. Having them read, analyze and then adapt and create fosters essential skills like creativity.
I guess the best reason for having students create films is that it brings Shakespeare to life in a new an interesting way.
I would love to have all middle schools participate in the "Lights, Camera, Action! Shakespeare Film Project". This year I shared project resources with interested teachers at two more schools in addition to working with Brown, Bunche, King and Inman. Using G-Suite resources I am able to share lesson presentations, planning documents, project checklists and resources with teachers interested in participating in the project. Google Docs allows students to collaborate on planning and writing, and I am able to monitor projects at multiple schools. Furthermore, I am working with teachers for a second or third year and I they are taking ownership of the process and project.
I am fortunate to work with middle and high school teachers from around the district. In addition to the Shakespeare project, this year I collaborated with several language arts teachers and classes to create short films based on novels including The Crucible, The Outsiders, To Kill a Mockingbird and Beowulf.
Please check out this year's Shakespeare films as well as previous years' films on my "Lights, Camera, Action!" page.
If you have any questions about the project please feel free to contact me.
One of the best parts of my job is getting to collaborate with teachers on engaging educational technology infused lessons. Working with Mrs. Looman, from Grady High School, we developed a real-world experience that provided the opportunity for students to showcase their knowledge and foster student voice.
The students in Mrs. Looman’s AP European History class utilized their research skills to become experts on famous European works of art on display at the High Museum. We visited the museum and students worked in pairs to present on their selected works of arts. They recorded their presentations (with approval from the museum) using iPads and shared them on Flipgrid. The goal of using Flipgrid was to introduce the students to the #studentvoice platform. Flipgrid allows students to upload a video and their classmates can view and reply to the presentations. Check out the awesome presentations below.
The conference kicked off with an inspirational and timely key-note from astronaut Leland Melvin (@Astro_Flow) about “The Right Stuff is the Never Give Up Stuff.
Session Takeaways - What did I learn?
The session Gobs of Goodies from Google from Certified Trainer and Innovative Educator Wanda Terral (@wterral) was packed full of great tools, extensions and tips for any aspiring Google guru. Check out her list of tips and tools.
One of my favorite sessions was 40+ Edtech Tools That Will Make You the ‘Cat’s Pajamas' of Your School with Randy Norman (@english_maven). It was a fast-paced crash course of various tools. Many I was familiar with, however I enjoyed the refresher, and I was thrilled to add some new ones to my #edtech tool belt. Here's the full list of resources.
I was excited to see Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent) in-person after finishing his online #ClassGraphics course. I learned about the benefits of Instagram for Teachers. So I will be trying my hand at Instagramming soon. The session Get Creative With Google Slides reiterated some of the great ideas I learned in the Classy Graphics course and the highlight of the conference was having Tony share the digital sticky notes I created as an exemplar. I ❤d Tony’s An Emoji Education 😜 session and got some great ideas of ways to incorporate emojis including using them in your Google drive folder names.
I always enjoy the high energy presentations from Leslie Fisher (@lesliefisher) and she shared some awesome resources and tools in this year’ sessions: Tools You Can Use Tomorrow, Creating Virtual Reality, Exploring Google Classroom, The Google You Might Not Know About and iOS 11 Tips & Tricks and Leftovers with Leslie.
She had a number of great takeaways including:
Chris Craft (@crafty184) had a great session on Screencasting - Moving Beyond the Basics which included some ideas for using screencasting to engage and enhance instruction.
Exhibit Hall & Networking
The conference would not have been complete without spending time in the Exhibit Hall, catching up with colleagues and meeting new educators.
I of course had to stop by and show my love for Tim & Moby at the BrainPOP booth. It was great to meet up with fellow CBEs (Certified BrainPOP Educators) from Georgia.
Until Next Year ...
It was three days full of learning about educational technology as well as networking with passionate educators. I am already looking forward to next year.
I love my job as an Educational Technology Specialist! I am fortunate to collaborate with teachers in my district and provide unique learning experiences for students.
Recently, I had a blast recreating the famous painting the School of Athens with two AP European History classes using green screen photography.
As part of Grady High School's homecoming week activities, it is a tradition for seniors to wear togas on Friday. For several years, Ms. Looman, an AP European History teacher has worked with her students to create a tableaux of the famous painting.
One of Grady's Instructional Coaches, Ms. Hollis, suggested I might be able to help and use green screen to recreate the painting.
I was thrilled at the challenge and was eager to support the project. I met with Ms. Looman and she shared her vision for the tableaux. We began brainstorming how to get more that 20 students in the famous image, with only a 10x10 green screen.
With such a large group, I decided the most effective way would be to photograph each student separately in front of a pop up screen. It was a more time consuming process but the final product was worth it.
Green Screen by Doink has three layers you can use to create your green screen image or video. I used the bottom two layers. The bottom layer is the backround image and the middle layer is the camera. The app allows you to resize and move the layer to anywhere on the background image.
I have had a number of questions regarding the process of recreating the School of Athens using green screen. I used Green Screen by Doink so I could manipulate the placement and scale of the students. Each picture captured created the new background layer.
For those interested, here is a video.
In my twenty years in education I have participated in numerous professional development experiences. One of the most beneficial in my career has been attending DENSI (Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute).
I was blessed to attend DENSI for a second time this summer.
Hosted by Discovery Education, the 2017 Institute was held in San Diego. DENSI is a 6-day residential professional development with more than 150 educators from around the globe. This year’s attendees were from the United States (28 states), Canada, UK, Dubai, China, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Haiti. The goal of the institute is to LEARN, SHARE & CONNECT with other educators.
As a first time attendee, last year in Chicago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been an avid user of Discovery Education Streaming since 2003. I had presented at Discovery Education’s DENapalooza - now Day of Discovery (a fantastic free day of learning for teachers) and had hosted two district-wide cohorts of the DEN Ambassadors Program but was not sure what to expect. I was encouraged to step out of my professional comfort zone and challenge myself to get more involved. During my first DENSI I presented a session on green screen video and even hosted an unconference hands-on green screen session. I met amazing educators and was thrilled to learn, share and connect.
Since my time in Chicago, last year, I have grown professionally, leading two more district-wide DEN Ambassador cohorts, attended Days of Discovery in North and South Carolina as well as presented, hosted a Twitter #DENchat, joined the Leadership Council and delivered an Ignite talk at an event with DE and GPB.
This year, I was overjoyed to return to continue learning, sharing and connecting. I was honored to be asked to serve as a small group leader. I had the opportunity to present a social media session “To Tweet or Not to Tweet? That is the Question … “ and lead an unconference session on Twitter 101. I am in no way a Twitter expert but was thrilled to share. Additionally, I was able to use my skills and experience to support the WDEN News (behind the scenes of course).
My involvement with the DEN Community provides rejuvenation, motivation and insight from a network of passionate educators.
I am so grateful for Discovery Education and their team’s efforts to honor educators and encourage the DEN Community. I have to thank Kelly Hines for her encouragement to get involved and lead in my district.
The power of the DEN Community can not be measured.
The DEN is more than a community, the connections and friendships I have formed have given me my DENtribe.
I am so appreciative to Aleigha Henderson-Rosser, Atlanta Public School’s Instructional Technology Executive Director and Warren Goetzel, Media Services Coordinator for encouraging me to learn and lead.