Creative Space

The PGCE students at Sheffield University have just completed their final assignments.  But this was no run-of-the-mill assignment- it was a mission that no PGCE students had previously undertaken at Sheffield University.

It all started earlier this year, when these students were asked to wander around graveyards of northern Sheffield to make poetry come to life using digital video recorders.  They were then introduced to the delights of Winterhill and Rawmarsh City Learning Centres where they became familiar with the recording and editing processes of making a film.  Working in groups, they supported each other’s ideas and technical understandings, learning that good communication was very important. They soon realised that they needed to be ‘over explicit’ to help learners new to technology. As one student said,” you learn best from hands on experiences.”  Whilst some relished the prospect of using digital technologies, others were apprehensive, convinced of their own incompetence yet aware of their obligations as a teacher to keep up with the latest technologies. “Children must be equipped to face the ever changing technological era.”Image

Pretty soon, they were ready for the real task at hand: the final task that  Mick Connell and Andrey Rowsowsky were to set for them.  It was not to create a resource for teaching, nor was it to be assessed, observed or linked to any part of any school curriculum.  The students were set free from these shackles – given free range.  Yes, they had to make a film, but they were given full licence to develop their recently acquired to skills pursue their own interests and

… be creative.

The only stipulation they were given was that their films had to be about the city that had hosted them for their year of study: Sheffield.  Any aspect could be explored- people, landscapes, cultures, history. Students were invited to build on their own interests and create something that was unique to them.

Taking advantage of this brief: they did just that!Image

Anna and I were invited to see the screening of these films. With the group, we witnessed five completely different and unique takes on Sheffield.  Students watched and discussed their films, quizzing each other on the techniques they used.  It was interesting to find that although many had planned storyboards for their productions, they had put these to one side as serendipitous events such as thunderstorms, public reactions and availability of unforeseen props changed the direction of the stories.Image

After the event I thought: this is real teacher education – not teacher training.  This was an activity that would impact on so many aspects of  these students’ personal development. Encouraging well rounded, creative and digitally literate individuals can only be good news for the children who are lucky enough to have them as teachers.

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And the winners are…pupils at Dinnington Comprehensive!

On Monday, the DeFT project team took part in a very special event – the mini-Oscars at Dinnington comprehensive where the Chris Welch and his pupils revealed the results of their hard work for the case study. They explored the use of instructional videos for enhancing digital literacy and issues related to student-produced Open Educational Resources. The pupils turned out to be very creative in their interpretation of the brief, which was to create an instructional video on a topic of their choice and shared with the world their knowledge on  tea-making, plum-tree planting, hamster-feeding, e-safety and cartwheels.

Mini-Oscars at Dinnington

There was red carpet, bow-ties and (non-alcoholic) champagne  and of course awards to recognise the efforts of the directors and the supporting crew. This is where the media technicians deserve a special mention – the case study would not have been possible without Jodi and Rob supporting the group every step of the way.  They are still putting the final touches on the videos which should soon be released onto YouTube and so others will be able to see for themselves how easy it is to cartwheel or make a decent cuppa!

DeFT Film

While the Sheffield doc fest was happening last week, the DeFT was making its own documentary film about the project. Artist Clare Young and I put together a digital animation of the DeFT poster which describes the players and story of Digital Futures for Teacher Education.

We elicited the help of six year olds Ben, Macy, Gabby and Michael from Mundella Primary School. , who took on board the project’s philosophical and empirical intentions, and worked together very patiently to provide the film’s narrative.

We have entered it into a competition held by the Creative Commons, U.S. Department of Education, and Open Society Foundations, who aim to promote the benefits of open educational resources for teachers and schools everywhere.  You can hear The US secretary of Education Arne Duncan talk about its benefits

You can watch the film and vote for us on this link.

If a picture is worth a thousand words…..

The Imovie workshop at Newman school.

The imovie workshop took place at Newman school.  Jack showed us a film about the work that he does with children from Newman school, and discussed elements of literacy that he develops using film.  Jack’s famous quote is “If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a moving picture worth?”

We at the workshop learned it was worth that a lot more than you think… we saw how children blossomed under Jack’s tuition with the help of the video camera. We could see how they planned (“storyboarded”), filmed, performed, edited, and produced excellent material that was interesting and informative.

The participants of the workshop included teachers from the DeFT team, a member of the Hallam Partnership team, students, colleagues and staff from Newman.

We all enjoyed the relaxed, informal atmosphere and benefited from Jack’s enthusiastic hands on approach.  One participant stated that he “really showed how literacy can be taught in an exciting way”. We all thought that we would have liked to have a longer session to experiment with the equipment, and some suggested a follow up session to which they would invite colleagues and  fellow students.

All in all a successful workshop!

You can get a glimpse of what we were up to in this video.