Youth Interviewing the Real World

We are six weeks into our Reel World Youth project where we are teaching kids how to create mini video documentaries as a way to learn about the world around them. And what a learning it has been to try to coordinate twenty teams of grade eight girls to research their story, come up with a story line, book interviews, and edit it all together. Once completed (or not), these films will be showcased at a film festival on December 1st for friends and family to share in the students’ learning.

It’s important to note that this course is not a separate after school program. Rather Reel World Youth is meant to be integrated (and encourage integration) with curriculum across subject areas. Too often school subjects are separated into silos of meaning that aren’t connected with each other or the real world.

My aspiration is not to run a movie-making course, but to use movie-making as a conduit for learning. Researching a topic and coming up with a hypothesis for the story, learning about story structures, approaching adults and asking questions, making meaning of the answers are all relevant life skills… if they can be connected to life. And I do hope that the students feel they can look at real issues of the world and do something about them.

You can track our progress via my other blog on Hidden Story Productions. Here are a few recent posts:

I want to give a special thanks to to Awesome Calgary and the Calgary Foundation for providing some seed funding for the equipment. And many, many thanks and accolades to my partner in the classroom, Kate MacKenzie from the Alice Jamieson Girls’ Academy, who has been absolutely astounding at taking care of the nightmarish logistical details of institutional proportions, managing classrooms full of young teenagers, and constantly finding teachable moments in everything we do.

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