Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Curriculum Day With Marco Torres

Historically, I leave curriculum days exhausted and overwhelmed. It's hard to come back the next day to pre-curriculum day lessons and ideas. I always want to redo everything. Yesterday, I came home exhausted but not overwhelmed. In fact, I showed up this morning with a renewed sense that what I've been attempting to do with blogs, wikis, and collaborative tools is good. But at the end of the day yesterday, what I took away from Marco's workshops was not necessarily curriculum specific, but it was inspirational because of the new ways (his word is channels) that students can produce and broadcast original stories and ideas. This morning what's at the forefront of my mind is from the last workshop of the day in which Marco introduced us to the grammar of film and photography. There are basically three rules, although he has this ten commandments joke thing.

1. Light
2. Composition
3. Sounds

Okay, I took film class in college and learned about different shots, creating moods, etc. But Marco presented it differently. He used, I already mentioned this, the term grammar. So what he showed us was entirely in the context of a sentence. First, he described the use of shots. A wide shot gives context; a medium shot shows action; a closeup shows emotion. He offered us a challenge: Take 3 shots that tell the story of a sentence, like: They argued in the doorway. Something like, a wide shot showing the doorway (here's a director's decision. Doorway leading to?). A few medium shots of the people arguing, maybe cutting back and forth showing the exchange of words. Then some closeups of parts of the body that reveal anger: hands, veins in the neck, etc. The images tell the story. What a cool activity for students. I'm going to work on putting together an activity. He followed up by making the connection to the grammatical elements of the sentence, verbs, subject, adverb.

The other piece that I think I used to miss was the point of curriculum days, which is to give teachers ideas to take back to their students. I never took them back to my students. This year, I've been trying to. So today, I dedicated about 15 minutes at the beginning of each class to describe what I did, what I thought, and offer them an opportunity on our class blog to elaborate on what I presented.

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