Movie making used to be the preserve of bigshot directors or those of use willing to fork out hundreds of pounds for handheld camcorders, tapes and editing tools. But not anymore.
Now any tablet or smartphone has a video camera and editing software so we can try our hand at movie magic.
For pupils, learning how to use these tools can be lots of fun, too, and beneficial to their learning – from developing digital skills vital for the future to boosting their creativity and artistic eye.
But of course, this requires teachers to be au fait with these tools too – which is not always the case. However, it’s not as daunting as you may think. Here’s how to get started.
1. Make sure you have all the right tools
The first thing to do is make sure you have the right tools – both hardware and software. Ideally, you’d want a tablet for each student – a smartphone can work but the smaller screen makes it harder. If not, then one between two can work as well.
Then you need to make sure each device has the right software – iMovie is usually the preferred tool but others are available.
You also want to make sure each device has enough battery for a lesson as video and movie editing can use up battery quickly – you don’t want a student losing their work mid -edit or during a key shot after all.
2. Teach yourself
This might sound difficult and overwhelming, rest assured, it is not. Video editing software is fairly straightforward to use and all of them have “how to” videos embedded on sites like YouTube.
Before teaching, you should become familiar with basic skills such as uploading videos, cutting videos into segments, uploading pictures, ordering videos and pictures, uploading audio, putting on titles and including transitions.
All of these functions are readily available and have clear titles like “titles” or “transitions”. It takes a little bit of practice but is definitely manageable – and it can be fun too and a nice little personal skill to develop too.
3. Have a demonstration video
Before you let the children loose on making their own videos, it’s a good idea to introduce them to the basic components of video editing mentioned above.
For example, you could find a short one minute video of instruction to make a salad that shows someone chopping the specific ingredients, then being mixed into a bowl. Cut the video up into small segments so the students have a few clips that they need to upload and put into the correct order. Demonstrate yourself using iMovie to put the clips together in the right order, adding in the elements discussed earlier such as titles and transitions.
The video and the different segments are the best way to introduce students to using the movie editing software for the first time. They can go on to make their own videos and edit them once they know the basic iMovie functions.
4. Talk them through the editing steps
Next comes perhaps the toughest part – teaching the students how to actively make a movie using the software.
It’s a good idea to really break this down into simple steps – really simple. So start with ‘how to log onto a computer or iPad’ then ‘how to open iMovie (or whatever tool you are using) and then how to upload footage.
It may seem awkward to be showing them the simplest steps but, remember, some of the students may have never logged on a computer, even the students who are computer literate, will most likely not be familiar with movie editing software.
Explain this to the students; they need to understand that they need strong foundations with the software to be able to make their own movies in the future.
5. Let them loose to have some fun
Once the students understand these basic functions, they can move on to recording their own videos and even using more of the advanced functions.
Once they have the basics, they can have a more inquiry-based approach to the learning process, exploring the software themselves and finding new functions/making changes themselves.
What worked well for me was letting them make their own 45-second movie trailers from a few 5- or 10-second clips they made themselves. Then telling them to explore the iMovie software more deeply and encouraging them to use functions that I had not taught them.
The big smiles of pride
Every time I have done this, students beam with pride over their creation, they call me over to show me what they have made saying: “Come and watch mine! Look at this!” Their pride is infectious - and well earned: these are really cool things for kids to make and have massive real-world application value in life to boot.
Gregory Adam is a primary teacher at Nord Anglia Chinese International School in Shanghai. He released his first book last year: Teaching EFL, ESL & EAL: a practitioner’s guide