After considering my curriculum for the past 2 years with my 9th grade language arts classes, a pattern began to emerge whenever I had students do project based learning. Students would write their formal paper, produce film about their writing, and then either write a secondary piece based on the experience or go back and revise the original writing piece.
As I looked back at the level of engagement and improvement evident in my class data from these project based learning experiences compared to the experiences where students wrote and revised their paper in a traditional drafting process, I started to wonder what exactly was sparking their improvement. This is when I noticed the connection to how they interacted with film. To be completely honest, I did not intentionally incorporate the filming process into their writing process in many of these units. I saw the film as a separate extension for them to engage in. What was really starting to happen was that students were able to use the filming process and their own produced film (whether it was performance based or reflective film of them talking through their projects/process) to think about their written work in a completely different way and notice elements they may have originally been unable to see and address in their formal draft.
As 9th graders (14-15 year olds), students really struggle to think about the writing process and edit their own content. It is comfortable for students to address grammatical and formatting issues that their teacher points out, but actually modifying the content and making sure that they are addressing the prompt to the best of their ability is a major struggle. So, I started looking at how I could highlight and engage them in this process of revision thinking. This led me to a lot of research on the revision process or what I found more often, the lack of revision writing that happens in a classroom. “Revision is essential in helping students learn to write independently because it pushes students to critically consider the effectiveness of their work, yet research indicates that revision is frequently overlooked by students and teachers” (MacArthur, 2013; Witte, 2013). As this statement suggests, I have noticed this in my own school setting, especially in a language arts department where each teacher has 140-150 students they are responsible for. The revision process takes time and that is something that is hard to work into a 43 minute classroom setting where every CCSS standard must be met and 17 days of class time are allotted for state PARCCs assessments.
The result of reflecting on my curriculum, researching revision practices, and the past 2 years of classroom experience with my kids was a desire to create a framework for the writing process that incorporates film and actively helps them engage in revision thinking. “Proficient writers revise throughout composing and use revision to think more critically about their topics as well as hone their work for the audience, making revision as much a process of discovery as it is creating a final product” (MacArthur, 2013; Sommers, 1982; Zito, Adkins, Gavins, Harris, & Graham, 2007). As stated above, revision is about the process more than the final product. The goal of this research to practice experience is to have my students work through this process in order to hone their critical thinking skills about the work they produce. This will be repeated, not only in the unit outlined below, but also in 4 other units throughout the year.
CCSS Focus Standards:
*Many standards will be addressed throughout the unit but these are the 3 focus standards.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grades 9–10 here.)
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
Describe the content of the learning experience:
*This is a work in progress and will be updated with supplemental material links, class strategies I plan to use, and other resources/adjustments.
1st Experience will be our narrative writing project. (Write-Feedback-Script-Film-Evaluate/Reflect -Revise)
- Students will write group narratives (3-4 students) They will be grouped according to the genre they choose to write in. The writing process will focus on narrative elements and framework we have been studying in class while they constructed their Personal Narrative Projects (first assignment of the year).
- Turn in Draft 1 in Google Classroom for feedback from Miss Wallace. This feedback will be in the form of comments on Google Docs.
- Revise and resubmit draft for “Green Light” on the scripting process
- Write Film Script from story -Dialogue Development – (Resources soon)
~What will transition from the story to the script well?
~What elements of your story can be cut or should be?
~What story elements must be kept for coherency and completeness?
- Submit Script Draft (While teacher looks over/offers feedback students are moving into the blocking process). If scripts are formatted correctly and students have a firm grip on dialogue development and pacing then their film will be “green lit” and they will proceed to blocking.
- Film Blocking done in Graphic Novel style panels with a written strategy that will be submitted for feedback. (Strategy with guiding questions provided)
~Where will it be filmed? Why?
~What props/sound effects, etc. are necessary? Why?
~What camera angles/lighting will you use? Why?
~How do your decisions help set the tone in your scene?
~How will the actors’ body language convey the mood or theme being portrayed in each scene?
~Lines – are there any? Why or why not?
~How are you conveying your message to your audience without outright telling them your message?
- Filming – students will film their scripted and blocked stories in the span of a week + 2 weekends: Students will be assigned or choose roles such as director, lighting, stage direction, continuity manager, props, makeup/costuming
- Showing/Viewing films – Film Review Strategy
~Evaluative/Reflective individual piece on student’s own process and end product – w/input from class feedback (share out format on class feedback)
~Group Analysis Strategy where groups look at their role in the filming process, their expectations, reflection on changes they would make if possible, and how they feel the audience reacted to their end product.
- Selection of top film from the class to be viewed at the Freshmen Film Festival (6 total 15-20min films, Community invited, short Q&A after)
- Prep for festival (this would be an extension piece to the assignment)
- This experience will then be used as a model to work with Text-Film-Text in other units besides narrative.
Describe the pedagogical methods that you’re presently considering as you design this experience:
- The writing process – focusing on analysis, evaluation, and revision
- Film design and using film design to showcase author/director choices
- This writing-filming-writing experience results in a Film Festival, which would be a project based learning framework but we are sort of building the pieces outside of that framework and then working into it. (If that makes sense at all) *Capstone assignment maybe?
Technology/technologies being considered:
I am considering laptops, smartphones/cameras/other filming devices editing programs and apps, youtube for informational supplementals about the filming process and checking out how scriptwriters / directors work through their process.
Dinkins, E. G. (2014). MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS’ PERSPECTIVES OF AND RESPONSES TO STRATEGIC REVISION INSTRUCTION. Middle Grades ResearchJournal, 9(2), 75.