Lights, camera, action! Publisher Dominic Traynor, founder of 'A Tale Unfolds', on the exciting new LitFilmFest for children
Literacy and technology have often been viewed as opposing forces. However with technology being integrated into most aspects of our lives, isn't it time to review this approach and see how digital skills and literacy can collude in the modern classroom?
That's why A Tale Unfolds has teamed up with education not-for-profit the London Grid for Learning to organise the LitFilmFest, a national event for key stage 2 pupils aiming to boost children's enthusiasm for literacy whilst simultaneously encouraging creativity and improving digital skills. And the reward for the winners will be to see their work on the amazing IMAX screen at BFI IMAX.
At A Tale Unfolds, working with technology to improve standards in literacy has always been our key aim. With more young people now reputed to own a phone than a book, technology has been viewed, in some ways understandably, as an enemy of literacy. Ten years ago 'text speak' was cited as the latest signifier in the decline of the English language but more recently social networking sites have become the latest way for young people to communicate.
As a Year 4 teacher witnessing pupils increasingly use technology it became clear that rather than banishing technology from the classroom it was important to look for ways to incorporate it, not just in science and ICT but in other facets of the curriculum as well.
'Film-making is transformative in raising literacy attainment'
It was this approach that led to the formation of A Tale Unfolds. Filmmaking, rather than film, is so transformative in raising literacy attainment that its use should be far more widespread. The children in our primary schools today struggle to see the link between the digital content they are exposed to 24/7 and the traditional acts of reading and writing. Filmmaking brings together traditional literacy and digital skills in a beautiful, powerful and meaningful way.
In the classroom A Tale Unfolds works through building literacy projects matched to the curriculum combining traditional literacy, reading and writing, with a digital output, for example a film or interactive book. We provide original stimulus videos, lesson plans, interactive whiteboard files, supporting resources and tech guides to help teachers make it all happen. Rather than a 'teach by numbers' approach we provide a framework within which teachers and pupils can be creative.
When I first piloted the filmmaking approach to literacy with key stage 2 learners, I was amazed at how engaged the pupils became in their work. They made more progress in the final six weeks of term using filmmaking than they had done in the previous six months!
Their work ethic went through the roof and suddenly they had a reason to write and work on sentence-level material because it was meaningful to them. The classroom came alive because they got immediate feedback on their work which forged a direct link between what they did in their books and the outcome they saw on the screen.
LitFilmFest will integrate digital work in the classroom
Launching the LitFilmFest was the logical next step in giving primary pupils a platform to showcase their work in a professional way. Unlike any other film festival, we're aiming to bring the digital world into the literacy classroom rather than it being seen as an add-on or nice extra. By using the film festival as a showcase of best practice, we want to show primary schools how easy it is to make literacy more relevant to our digital generation pupils.
To allow teachers to make the most of the time they have available we have developed four different categories which schools can enter. The first, Pupil Prime Minister, brings together English, politics and citizenship. Action and Adventure is the long format category designed for classes who wish to incorporate their entry as part of a longer project. Film Trailer has been designed as a quick and easy way to enter, and The Plastic Times category has been created to encourage an awareness of environmental issues. All categories are supported by comprehensive teaching resources made by A Tale Unfolds.
Winners get to 'shoot their films professionally'
The winners in each of the four categories will then be invited to shoot their films professionally at YouTube's Creator Space, CNN's Turner House and the British Film Institute in London. Both winners and shortlisted schools will then attend the BFI IMAX in London on Monday 19th June 2017. As well as the four screenings throughout the day, as many as 25,000 children are expected to be involved in the event through well-established partnerships with social and print media organisations such as First News, CNN and Innovate My School.
When submitting their films, teachers will be asked to provide evidence of written work as well as a link to their film. The festival is about raising standards in writing, the message they deliver and their presentation skills rather than slick video editing and special effects. Professional editing will not make an entry more likely to be chosen as a category winner.
For those wishing to enter the deadline for submissions will be Wednesday 17th May 2017. Winners will be notified and invited to film their entry professionally shortly before the event on Monday 19th June 2017 at the BFI IMAX in Waterloo, London.
Dominic Traynor, a primary teacher, founded 'A Tale Unfolds' with the aim of empowering schools to radically improve traditional literacy standards by exploiting digital literacy for 'real world' outcomes
In order to submit your school's entry to the LitFilmFest please visit litfilmfest.com/
For more information on the London Grid for Learning please see lgfl.net
For more information on A Tale Unfolds resources please see ataleunfolds.co.uk
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