This article originally appeared in the spring 2015 Harker Quarterly.
Two afternoons a week, the lower school’s room 509 gets transformed into a movie and broadcast video production studio, thanks to two popular BEST (Bucknall Enrichment and Supervision Team) after-school offerings.
At the end of the regular school day on Tuesdays, students in grades 4-5 become producers in the new Harker Student Productions (HSP) class, where they hone their video broadcasting skills. Then, on Thursdays, it’s “lights, camera, action” for grade 3 students enrolled in the Movie Makers class, now in its second year. In that class, students work to create part of the third grade video yearbook.
Following on the heels of last year’s successful Movie Makers class, BEST launched the HSP course at the start of this school year. Sixteen students are enrolled in HSP, working in teams to plan, film, edit and prepare footage about school events, service projects and classroom happenings to be shared at the end of the class with the entire Harker community. HSP students learn how to use iMovie on iPads and can also apply to become volunteer mentors to the Movie Makers class.
In the Movie Makers class, students capture, import, edit and bring images to life, also via the iMovie app for iPads. The 14 students now enrolled work in teams and cover such topics as field trips, classroom events, playground fun, parties, service projects, sprit events and Eagle Buddies gatherings. These shorter clips are then put together at the end of the year to serve as a video yearbook at the grade 3 party (a link is shared with parents as well).
Max Blennemann, grade 4, participated in last year’s Movie Makers class and is now enrolled in the HSP class. He also volunteers as a mentor to students in this year’s Movie Makers class. Taking his newly acquired filmmaking skills a step further, he recently made a short documentary, titled “Day in the Life of a Fourth Grader,” which was shared at an event for grade 4 parents.
“My dream was for students to have a positive experience in the Movie Makers class and then want to give back as a mentor in the HSP class,” noted lower school teacher Heather Russell, who launched both the HSP and Movie Makers classes. “Max is an example of that dream becoming a reality.”
“We have fun making videos and playing on the iPad. This is my favorite class at Harker. Someday I want to be a movie director because of it,” said Blennemann.
The first video put out by HSP was a 14-minute-long labor of love for class participants and is available for viewing at http://youtu.be/eaYbJ4x1ca0. “The end result is a wonderful student-made production that captures lots of memorable moments inside and outside of the classroom,” reported Russell.
The HSP class evolved out of a Harker-sponsored technology project grant Russell received after being inspired as an exchange teacher in Japan last year. After seeing a similar student-led video broadcast at Harker’s sister school in Tamagawa, Russell led Harker’s Movie Makers class in a collaborative video yearbook to show to the Japanese students. She wanted to expand on the idea of a grade-level video and also provide a vehicle for students to cover schoolwide topics.
The HSP broadcast is a student-directed, student-created, organic celebration of happenings at the lower school, Russell￼explained. The production includes concerns the students feel should be constructively expressed, reinforcement of the theme of the year and The Toolbox Project, and allows the students to be creative in communicating important issues and events at the lower school.
The iPads being used by students in both the Movie Makers and HSP classes were made available from donations to Harker’s annual giving campaign – a gift for which grade 3 student Ceren Erdogan is especially grateful.
“I appreciate that we get to use electronics, because most schools don’t,” said Erdogan.