About Life, Play

Kids in school on Saturday!

Here I am, sitting at my desk on a perfect Saturday morning waiting for a group of student to finish shooting a short film they are making to compete in a 48hr competition online. It is such a great way to spend a Saturday, seriously!

These kids are fantastic, enthusiastic and totally given to the project. Sure, they have no script, not much of an idea of how to operate the equipment, nor much of a crew – only 3 of them because the other 3 or 4 managed to get themselves grounded last night – but they are committed to finishing a 3minute short within 48hrs. This is what I love about video in the classroom. Even though many of the students in school who work on videos are not my actual Digital Moviemaking students, the word gets around that we have decent equipment for them to use and they gravitate towards my neck of the woods.

Once kids have an interest – and if they are in school on a weekend they sure have an interest – the rest is easy. Teaching them how to operate complicated equipment, how to deal with editing issues using post-production effects, or how to make better audio for their projects is simple when they are actually paying attention. When students get together to create video projects they employ all the good stuff employers are looking for these days; group work, leadership, good communication, [some] planning, troubleshooting, quick-problem-solving, creativity, imagination. As long as they are interested I watch as they develop these skills all on their own….I’m there to guide the process, but they get to do all the work. It’s a joy really!

Check out what Dimitris and company churned out in 48hrs: 

About Life, Play

My students have an A+

1 Comment

Even before stepping into my classroom, my students already have an A+ as a grade. It is up each of them to maintain that A+.

The way I see it, in the Middle/High School years, very little academic content motivates students more than their social life. At that age, a day can be the single worse or the single best day of their lives. What they learned in math or science on any given day is overshadowed by what their best friend said or did, or even what that special someone posted on their Facebook profile that morning. Each student’s relationship/status with their own circle of friends is above anything else.

I am not claiming students don’t learn. They do. It’s just that there are other more important things going on in their lives that trump any academic information we try to give them. This is where is gets really easy for me. Students come into a computer lab hungry for information, one they can use to get better at their social “job/life”. Teaching Communications Media in the Middle School, I get to walk them through how to create graphics, publish information via their own website, and how to create voice/video recordings they can then share to the world via YouTube or Vimeo or their own website. In the Digital Moviemaking class in the High School, students learn about making movies, creating stories and how to interpret composition in still images as well as images in motion. These two classes that I teach already engage the student even before I say one word. They are hungry to know more. This I take advantage of!

This is why my students have an A+ when they come into my classroom. They walk into my class with intense interest and motivation. They are willing to make really incredible mistakes during the first few weeks, and their work gets better as time moves on. They work on the creative as well as the technical, simultaneously and interchangeably. They stick to deadlines, they write, they edit, they manage themselves, they find ways to move the story forward even if one whole scene must be taken out during post production. They make decisions, they mess up, they ask questions, and go right back to make it better. I sit back and I enjoy!

Play, Work

Indeed; we need better parents!

Yes, superhero teachers have a lot to do with the development of a child, but occupying 15% of a child’s time from birth to his/her 18th birthday is not nearly enough time to make a dent if home-life is contrary to what is being taught in the classroom. Values, modeling, habits, traits, teachings, behavior and other lessons at home must coincide with those at school, else the superhero teacher is pushing against the waves all alone. Here is a great article by “The Earth is Flat” author: read article here

About Life, Play

Any given Sunday in Sarriá

Barcelona, Sunday morning, in the middle of a sigh!

Anyone who knows me will have undoubtedly heard my “fortunate” comments around work, life, family, travel, opportunities, or other things-life at some point. Yes, self righteous, I know, but there is no other way I can express how I feel when I live these scenes.

Not long ago, in the late 70´s and early 80´s while I was still a kid in El Salvador, life was very different. Having no money, my family could barely afford to dress me in the required school uniform. One of my older sisters was a dress-maker and she made me my one uniform which I had to care for in order for it to hold up the whole week of school. Shoes were worn until the sole came off. Pencils where used until the eraser what the only thing between little fingers trying to write. Clases where multi-grade multi-age classes where one teacher was in charge of 30+ students of many different grades/ages. Going home presented the challenge of staying away from army soldiers who would, at will, take young boys into an immediate draft. Forget about bullies, I don’t remember any bullying problems back then.

Afternoons or weekend walks to the center of town often included a must-visit to the town hall where the day’s previous casualties of the ongoing civil war where laid out in wooden boxes in public view such that families could come down to claim the loved one(s)’s body. It was part of growing up.Though morbid, it became my source of news for the day and I got to go home to tell my older sister who I’d seen. If I knew the family of the deceased I would pay a visit to their house to let someone know that they should go to city hall to claim their loved one. I didn’t know better.

Sleeping in a one-room, one light-bulb room, my bed space was right below my sisters’ bed, on the floor. My memory of childhood dreams is filled with middle-of-the-nigh waking up biting down on the bed sheet that served as my pillow as I rarely went to bed with a full stomach and the hunger and dreams of eating would wake me. So, now that I’ve traveled, done, seen, eaten, slept, loved, life is sweet. Seeing the sky every time I step out of my apartment is a delight, it is something to savor. Walking the streets and hearing and smelling the lazy Sunday come to life brings a smile to my lips. I can’t help it.