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Edtech Advocacy &
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The Third Dimension of Literacy: Giving Your Students a Voice Through Film

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Saturday, December 5, 11:00 am–12:00 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Megan Kiefer  
People's Choice winner. The Third Dimension of Literacy considers viewing media the new dimension of reading and making media the new dimension of writing. By transforming essays into documentary films and short stories into narrative films, students increase subject retention. This workshop shows how to incorporate this both remotely and in-person.

Audience: Principals/head teachers, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Google Drive, any editing software, any recording device - camera phone or tablet.
Topic: Storytelling/multimedia
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Performing/visual arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.
For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
For Education Leaders:
Empowering Leader
  • Empower educators to exercise professional agency, build teacher leadership skills and pursue personalized professional learning.
Influencer Disclosure: This session includes a presenter that indicated a “material connection” to a brand that includes a personal, family or employment relationship, or a financial relationship. See individual speaker menu for disclosure information.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of our presentation will be to introduce educators to the Third Dimension of Literacy and how to employ it in their schools and classrooms. During our workshop we will show participants how to make films in small groups on a variety of different topics to show how this work can be applied to all learning environments. We will be using google docs to write scripts and a variety of different editing software or cloud technology to teach editing.

Lesson Plan: Documentary Filmmaking - The New Essay.
Documentaries, like Narrative films, have their own genres and approaches to the subject matter. There are four core types of Documentary film: historical, informative, investigatory, and personal. A fifth category, propaganda, shares production similarities with the others - though it’s important to recognize the material difference in the approach it takes to presenting facts. This workshop will outline the basic fundamentals of how to make a basic Documentary film with your class.

Objective/Standards: Through Documentary Filmmaking, participants will be able to take what they are teaching in their classrooms and help their students create entertaining and engaging ways to educate others on what they are studying and gain valuable skills on how to create media responsibly.

What you’ll need (equipment/resources):
-Computer with editing software; at least one computer for every group.
-Google docs for easy writing and collaboration.
-One device or camera for every group; cell phones work!

Mindset matters! While you as the educator may not be versed in the language and grammar of filmmaking, your students are using it in their daily lives. Be patient with yourself, and spend some time getting to know whichever editing software you choose to use. We will also be encouraging participants to teach each other if they get stuck - remember YouTube tutorials are your friend!

Once you’re ready:
-Familiarize yourself with equipment and resources and topic.

-Watching is the new reading - we will show a short example of a documentary film that will anchor understanding. While participants are watching, they will fill out the note catcher to analyze the films for basic elements of film including story, sound design, editing, direction, ability to convey knowledge, and effective call to action. We will then hold a discussion around what makes them good/bad, strengths and weaknesses? What makes a good documentary? What makes a good film?

-Arrange participant in groups of 3-6 depending on what film they are interested in making.

-Think of a documentary as a five-paragraph essay for the Digital Age.
-Start with an Introduction. Aim for three “Supporting Paragraphs,” each reinforcing a key proof point. Make sure to limit each “paragraph” to a few sentences per paragraph with no redundancies.
-We like to have the first section of the three supporting paragraphs be about the past of the situation or problem, the second about the present-day status of the situation or problem, and the third be the near-probable-future of the situation or problem if nothing is done about it.
-End with what in an essay is called a Conclusion, but in the documentary world is considered a “Call to Action”. Remember that in film if you say the same thing twice your audience will lose interest. Keep introducing new ideas and facts!

- Record voice-over - Screen the Video Tutorial on Voice Overs and review main points below.
-The voice-over becomes the skeleton for the film, participants will use it to help build their visuals and tell their story. Find a quiet space where students can take turns reading the essay out loud into a device (like an iPhone or iPad).
-Make sure to use a device that can send the audio file to the computers you are editing on.
-Most editing programs such as iMovie and Final Cut Pro include a voiceover function, making narration simple with just a USB or built-in microphone.

-To practice shooting interviews make one of the group participants an "expert". Make sure that the subject is not centered in your shot. This is counterintuitive to what people tend to do, but it allows you to create better depth of field and more interesting shots.
If you can get some nice depth of field and good lighting that is a bonus.
-Have the interviewer next to the lens so that the subject it looking just off the camera.
-Have your subject put your questions in their answers so you can cut your questions out in the edit.
-If two cameras are available, set one on a medium shot and another as a close up to allow for smoother transitions when cutting out parts of the interview.

Shooting or Finding B-Roll
-Screen the Video Tutorial on B-Roll and review main points below.
-B-Roll is all the images and video that is used to lay on top of the voice-over.
-You can also search for b-roll and download it to the computers the students are editing on.

-Familiarize yourself with the editing program you are using. Make sure to keep your films short - recommend 2-3 min at most!!
-Upload your footage and b-roll
Input the footage, and show how to backup and save projects at the end of filming days.
-Overview of common editing tools:
Cut & Paste, Inpoint & Outpoint, Dragging out, Zoom In/Out, Blade, Edit > Insert Generator > Gap
Rough assembly: Adding shots you want to use and putting them in the right order
-Overview of advanced editing tools, Filters, Effects, Transition, Title Cards, Generators, Music & Sound Effects

Maximizing your impact
While it’s great to simply have completed work, it’s also important to share that work. Create impact campaigns and how to use this medium to promote action, empathy and change (locally and globally).
-Watch the films.
-Give audience “Note Catcher” to answer questions pertaining to the film.

Evidence of success will be to have the participants share their films on social media to create bigger impacts.


Content and activities:
Introduce the pedagogy of the Third Dimension of Literacy and our thought leadership in this space with our new book and LMS site. (15 min)
Mini-filmmaking workshop (45min)
Participants will learn how to use common resources such as phones and laptops to create short documentary films. We will guide attendees in a hands-on activity that will have them create their own mini-movies that tie into common core subjects and topics such as the environment (science), historical events (social studies), or biography (english/social studies).
We will then walk participants through the filmmaking steps; writing a script, recording voice overs, finding b-roll and editing/sound design using readily available software and technology.
At the end, we will screen examples of films made during the workshop. Participants will also have a chance to win a free subscription to our LMS site by tagging @taketwofilmacademy and @ISTE on any social media platform.

- We will first engage the audience with a multimedia presentation that illustrates our philosophy on the Third Dimension of Literacy using animations and youth-created content.
- We will then incorporate peer-to-peer and device-based interaction at tables where groups will then work together using their own technology to create a short film.
- Each group member will have a specific role to perform, e.g. cameraperson, editor, narrator, etc.
- At the end each groups will have a short film they have made and uploaded to social media in the hopes of winning a subscription to our LMS site.

Supporting research

We will be presenting our thought leadership in the Third Dimension of Literacy, and introduce people to Megan Kiefer's book The Third Dimension of Literacy - how to bring filmmaking and media literacy into your classroom.

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Megan Kiefer, Take Two Film Academy

Megan Kiefer is the founder of Take Two Film Academy and has been educating young people in storytelling and filmmaking since 2004. She has a BA from Tufts University and and MBA from Babson College. She is passionate about teaching young people how to use film to create impact and change in the world. Megan has also started two retail businesses, and is an active member of the Summit Series as well as the Charles and Lynn Schusterman REALITY initiative.

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