Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reading Comprehension via Silent Film App

When we discovered the Silent Film Director app we knew we had to find a way to use it.  And, luckily enough, one of our fourth grade teachers was game.  She was reading The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh to  her students and wanted to find a way to help them dig more deeply into the text.  Rachel chose to read this book to her class in part because of their study of Jamestown and all of the ways people needed to adapt when settling a new colony (another layer is that in science her students are studying animal adaptation.) 

Here's the description of the book from Amazon:  "We are at Shine, on the first day, " says Pattie, when, as the youngest member of the group, she is given the honor of naming the new settlement. Refugees from the dying planet Earth, they, along with other ships, have been sent into space in the hope that some of them will survive to continue the human race. But the success of Shine remains doubtful as crops fail and provisions brought from Earth dwindle. Even the excitement surrounding the hatching of the giant moth people from the "boulders" in Boulder Valley doesn't make the group forget the hopelessness of the situation. It isn't until Pattie and her sister Sarah make an important discovery that survival becomes a certainty.

Rachel had her students focus on the obstacles the characters had to face and how they overcame those obstacles.  They selected the major obstacles in the book, divided into groups, and began to plan for how to recreate their scenes as silent films.  This began with teaching the kids how to write effective summaries.  Then we taught them about mood, tone, and symbolism.  Finally, we taught them some cinematic terms, particularly those that would allow them to select their camera angles (wide shot, close up, pan, shoulder shot, double shot, etc.).  We also showed them many examples of silent films and analyzed how these films made meaning without dialogue.  The students planned their costumes, selected their setting, and mapped their shots using a storyboard.  They were deeply immersed in an analytical study of the novel.

Friday was shooting day.  The students demonstrated so much enthusiasm about their scenes and so much understanding of the book.  And they had fun with the filming of their silent films. 

The app offers a lot of choice in terms of effects and sounds.  Check it out!

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