Lights, Camera, Action: Filmmaking in the Language Classroom

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This is a review of Sophia Mavridi‘s session at the International House Barcelona ELT conference, February 2019, by our roving reporter, Georgios Vlassios Kompas. This is the final review from the LTSIG strand.

Sophia Mavridi, the IATEFL LTSIG coordinator opened the day at the International House in Barcelona.  In a full house of participants, she talked about the transition of content interest of image to video.  She highlighted the power of video and made us feel that motion is the new filter, with some very interesting facts!

It is quite interesting to see that filmmaking in the classroom is so easy.  There is not a lot of specialized equipment needed, but the results can be breathtaking and quite engaging.  Sophia emphasized the importance of filmmaking. She talked about students having a more experiential approach, they develop real life skills, they are exposed to problem solving, as well as diverse cultural problems that they may not have encountered elsewhere.  This also boosts their media literacy and develops their language learning. 

Sophia talked about Task Based Learning (TBL), where language is the vehicle of learning.  Students are asked to perform tasks that are meaningful and real life.  Sophia dwellt a lot on the idea of media literacy as it is quite important for students nowadays, a useful 21st century skill.  Media literacy is to be able to critically evaluate and be able to create a variety of media formats such as image, video, text, and sound.  It lets people convey and interpret messages on screen, it also creates media for self-expression and communication (Centre for Media Literacy, 2018; Thomas, 2013; Hobbs, 2011).   Sophia went to more specifics and talked about the PPR (Plan, Produce, Reflect) and she gave the importance of every stage.  She highlighted that every stage of the PPR is equally important and none of them should be skipped.

For stage 1, you have to think and prepare.  Students need to think of the most effective ideas.  Once the idea is set, the students move on to the preparation.  At this stage, they need to research and plan, make all arrangements find their roles, equipment and anything else that they think will be needed. 

For stage 2, you have to create and edit.  This is a learning process, and a lot of attention is given to the process rather than just the product.  Students need to produce and then edit, see which parts they like and which they do not.  At this stage they can add any additional effects, filters, and/or music if necessary. 

For stage 3, you need to share on the specified platform and evaluate your product.  You can do peer review and the teacher can also provide guidelines that can assist in that process. 

Sophia then talked about all the essential equipment that is needed for these projects, like a phone or a camera, good lighting, a special light and some applications that would make the process easier, like videoshop, iMovie, and clips. 

Another important factor that Sophia highlighted was that of privacy.  She mentioned that a written consent from the parents would be needed in the cases of minors.  It could also be the case that students would not be filming others.  In any case special care needs to be given to the privacy of all individuals. 

How does assessment work for such projects?  Sophia focused on the multiple facets of assessment.  The assessment should be on all stages of the project.  For instance it can be on planning, the product, reflection, language, and teamwork.  These are some sample criteria, different categories and different aspects of the project can be mastered in different scenarios and settings.  Sophia, after showcasing how to use videoshop with a tutorial, she asked participants for a hands on experience.  She told participants to form groups of 4, choose one of the topics (story, trailer, catwalk, and a how to film.)  Attendees started work immediately, got out of the room and started creating videos about the different topics.

All the participants were thrilled that they got to actually use the application that Sophia was talking about.  Some great videos were produced for the different categories!  It was a very successful presentation and everyone was engaged with it.  Excellent work!

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