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Why use filmmaking to improve literacy?

In this step we invite discussion around using film in the classroom, starting with a video from some of our experts.
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We try to embed filmmaking across the whole school. We have children from reception all the way to Year Six making films. We celebrate films in assemblies, we have our own television channel on our learning platform, and we showcase cinema in our film club and also in assemblies. I think filmmaking is an activity that is truly cross-curricular. It can be used right across the curriculum in both primary and secondary schools. That builds on people’s core skills, their confidence, their communication, their team working skills, but it’s also incredibly creative.
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When we’re looking at texts, it’s really good to be able to bring texts to life for children to understand how characters feel and then to try and be able to act that out or talk about it in discussions or even debate it. Filmmaking for us allows children to be really creative, to work collaboratively, and to really show a deeper understanding of texts. I think it brings a whole host of benefits to the curriculum. Students find filmmaking, the process of making films, very engaging. We live in the YouTube generation. They’re very used to this type of technology.
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They find it simple and easy to use film as a recording mechanism, so being able to research or create their own educational materials is something that comes very naturally to them. Nowadays, using student-created video content is as simple and accessible as reaching for a pen. The most important technology for us is mobile technology. We want children to be able to film anywhere at any time to expose the whole site to be able to be filmmakers. And so for us, in classrooms, it means that we have iPads, iPods, as well as handheld cameras that can capture filming very quickly. We don’t need a lot of editing tools.
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It’s really about point-and-shoot, to be able to plan and record and play back a story. It’s a marvellous tool for helping to work through a problem and going through the stages. So often in, say, maths, for example, you might not record every stage of problem solving. But in video, you can do that very easily. And it really gives those pupils that are lacking confidence, the ability to get their ideas out and to get their ideas put in front of the class. And I think it really makes a big difference to their self-esteem and confidence, as well. At our school, we have 41 languages amongst the children. We have around 25 per cent of children who have special educational need.
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And so there are many, many stories of children who benefit from being able to work collaboratively with others, to be able to work in a team to make a film. And sometimes that is based on a text and simply replicating a story as an element. Sometimes it’s whole classes coming together to be able to make an animation of a story such as The Three Little Pigs with groups taking on different elements of the story. And sometimes it’s really about individuals who just shine, who before really struggled because they can’t access a text through reading.
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But when they’re working collaboratively, all of a sudden you see that they have a point of view and they have an understanding about how a character feels. But they’re able to show it much more easily in film. And it comes down to the idea that children just have different ways of learning. And I think when students use film, they retain the information a lot better. They’ve make the decisions about what they’re going to film and why, and then they screen that back, often several times, to friends and parents because they’re very proud of what they’ve produced. And I think that has fantastic implications for the classroom.
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For some children who find real difficulty in accessing a text to read it, being able to express themselves on film or by making something like an animation really does accelerate their learning. And so we have children that make exceptional progress, particularly in reading, places us in the top 10 per cent of schools in the country, and some of that is down to the fact that children are given opportunity to express themselves through filmmaking.

Throughout this course we have looked at short narrative-based films as a tool for analytical and critical analysis. In this section of the course we will look at how we can use filmmaking to aid curricular attainment.

In the video above we hear from Jennifer Johnston and Simon Richards from the Into Film training team and Simon Pile, assistant headteacher at Anson Primary School.

Have you incorporated filmmaking into your teaching?

If so, can you tell us how you’re using it?

If not, what how would you see yourself using film in the future?

Please add to the comments below.

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Teaching Literacy Through Film

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