Video and Writing in the Elementary Grades
INT. HALLWAY - AFTERNOON
We look down a long hallway, dark, empty. At the end are glass double doors and the late afternoon light shines in backlighting the scene. We hear some voices coming out of a room but we can't make them out. Out of nowhere we hear a yell.
Then more quiet voices.
We move down the hallway. And see a door to a classroom ajar. Through a narrow crack we can see chairs turned upside down on desks, their legs in the air with tennis balls on the feet. We hear an undetermined number of girls. Occasionally we can briefly see one of them but what is it they're focusing on?
The way you eat, you look like you're from a zoo!
What did you say to me?!
You heard me, you monkey!
Cut. Yeah, that was good.
In the distance, we hear the boy yell again, his voice echoing through the hall.
STOP! You can't go back!
We move further down the hallway and the door to the girls bathroom is open. There's toilet paper all over the floor and there are both boys and girls standing around watching.
We see a boy, PETER, wrapped to a toilet with the paper like he's a mummy. The PRINCIPAL walks into the bathroom.
Got yourself into a pickle, huh, Peter.
The principal chuckles and moves on. We hear a burst of laughter in the distance from the group of girls.
What on earth is going on in this school?! Mysterious conflict behind closed doors, yelling and threats, a seemingly indifferent principal, abandoned hallways, cryptic laughter. Have the public schools begun to crumble into an apocalyptic mess? Will this be the future of schools?
Well, hopefully it will be future as this is a typical day in the Zia Elementary After-School Video Club (see related link below). The program, currently in its fourth year, puts video cameras into the hands of young children, free to create the movies in their minds. In this non-conventional environment, students learn to write scripts, shoot them, and edit the video. An essential aspect of the program is everything is done by the kids-- its their stories, they make the decisions and do the acting, they run the cameras and move the mouse. The final products are satisfying conclusions to a long collaborative writing process.
This resource is an invitation for teachers to look closely at the writing elements integrated in the video production classroom and appreciate the literacy involved when young children collaboratively work with different mediums including traditional print, photography, video, animation, sound, and other digital texts.
Indeed, if this is the future of schools, the future looks quite good.