Thank You for the Learning

Lounsberry’s Video Creation Club, known to our students as the VCC, has been up and running for three years now.  I originally advertised the after school club as a “learning together opportunity” with zero promises; I honestly knew nothing about video creation, except that I wanted to learn more. I also knew and still believe that video creation is an extremely important means of expression that should be incorporated within content area curricula as a means for expressing learning. However, the reality is that the time needed, for student experimentation and the skill learning necessary for effective video creation, is difficult to find.

We made many mistakes our first year and most of our learning came in the form of “this is not as easy as it looks!”  Our cumulative project was a lib dub type motivational video, involving the whole student body and passing the state mandated NJ ASK test. What can I say? Sometimes you do what you have to when your school needs it, no matter how much you disagree with the premise. I will not show the video here, not only because our district requires that all students require a parent/caregiver OK to have their picture published, but also because it was really, really bad!

Second year running and the club, I’m afraid, was still in need of improvement. Students worked in groups on projects of their own design, including: a welcome to Lounsberry video for incoming fifth graders, a horror film, an anti bullying mini movie, a try at a documentary about Lounsberry’s annual Variety Show and a comedy, of some sort. Although our products were far from publishable, we learned:

To never touch a video camera until you’ve created a plan; it’s necessary to incorporate effective story boarding, shooting and editing techniques to get a polished project; that working collaboratively within groups is a necessity, but not always easy; that using and storing video equipment properly is nonnegotiable; and that a teacher can only handle so many kids at a time!

Now for the purpose for this post. This school year, I decided that the time and energy needed to run this club was was stipendablable, my sniglet for, “I really think I deserve to be paid for what I’m doing!” Much to my dismay, however, Vernon’s Board of Education members did not agree and the stipend request was denied during a Fall 2012 meeting. VCC members and their families were not happy, and boldly decided to appeal the decision. Three boys and their parents sat through an entire Board of Education Meeting, which is quite an accomplishment in itself for 10 & 11 year old’s, and spoke their minds.  Board members were not easily swayed, however, our district’s superintendent, Dr. John Alfieri, was. He not only recognized the benefits of the club for all its members, but also the possibility for an authentic and meaningful learning experience for three hard working students. He asked the boys to make an appointment to see him to further present their argument. They refined their arguments, citing evidence for their case, expressed their opinions and understandings to Dr. Alfieri, and at his request, presented their case once again at a closed, working Board of Education session. An e-mail message I received that night, written by a deservedly ecstatic 11 year old student read, “Get your cameras ready…”

We’ve just finished our third week of meetings for VCC and although there’s probably still way too many kids involved, we’re learning together and having a good time too!

Thank you Dr. Alfieri for allowing our students to make a difference!

 

 

 

 

 

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