AFI Screen Education: Worthwhile Professional Development

I had the opportunity to participate in a one day workshop this past weekend presented by Frank Guttler at the American Film Institute in Los Feliz. I went because it was free for me, it sounded cool to go the American Film Institute, and it was a chance to see my Apple Distinguished Educator colleagues who I haven’t seen since Apple Camp.

Being an NYU film school dropout and no stranger to filmmaking, the techinques were not new. However, it made me very conscious of the ways in which I use film to tell stories and gave me a way of explaining what I do in terms which students and other teachers can understand. I saw how my colleagues went from having a very narrow sense of film language to being able to analyze scenes with depth and complexity within the course of a day. (I could’ve saved 32 thousand dollars had I had this workshop before NYU). I think the workshop will make me a far better professional developer in this area in the future. I’m already thinking of how I will revamp portions of my upcoming workshops at LACOE on integrating technology in the Open Court program (more about those later).

While I have always taught potential project ideas and how to plan digital storytelling projects around Open Court units I think that there is much value in teaching students and teachers film language because of the higher level thinking involved. Previously I frowned upon teachers simply creating retellings of stories in the anthology, preferring to advocate for sequels, commercials, public service announcements, and other kinds of parallel stories which involve more than simply remembering but get to synthesizing and applying on Bloom’s Taxonomy. If teachers and students take the time to evaluate their shots and decisions they make in planning and filming projects I see how students could get to higher level thinking even with retellings of stories. For example, (from first grade, Games unit) students might make decisions to portray Matthew and Tilly’s faces up close and distorted when they are fighting with each other to show how ugly their fighting is. This would show a deeper understanding of the story than simply setting up a camera and reading the dialogue from the book.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of these AFI workshops at a conference or other event in the future I recommend that you take it even if you have to pay. Whether you are a novice or complete beginner there’s something to be gained and it’s also a lot of fun. Also, know that if you have access United Streaming (or decide to get a free 30 day trial) and search for AFI you already have access to the almost the entire curriculum.

Here is our one minute film made with strict paramaters and in camera editing. (I did take out five seconds using iMovie ’08 when I got home).

Download The Door

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3 Responses to “AFI Screen Education: Worthwhile Professional Development”

  1. Janice Stearns Says:

    Mathew,
    I love the new look of your blog. Very nice!

    I was fortunate to be able to attend the AFI film institute a few months back with the Google Teacher Academy. I think their curriculum is fantastic. The simple step by step procedures and attention to camera position to tell the story were excellent. I think teachers and students will really enjoy how just a few techniques can really enhance the message of a video. It’s great that you will be using the techniques in your upcoming class. I really need to take that class! 🙂

  2. Creating Lifelong Learners » Blog Archive » Design and Storytelling in Film Says:

    […] would be able to produce better video and be better able to analyze all types of media.Related: Reflection on AFI’s Screen Education SeriesThe City Mouse and the Country Mouse FilmDigital Storytelling Blog Carnival These icons link to […]

  3. Creating Lifelong Learners » Blog Archive » Digital Storytelling Blog Carnival #2 Says:

    […] The Door Scene, a fantastic way of teaching filmmaking to teachers and students from the American Film Institute’s Screen Ed Series. See my own doors scene here. […]

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