Edited highlights

15th October 2004 at 01:00
PHONE CALL. Red Shoes. Pre-1914 Poetry. Poetry of the First World War

Interactive CD-Roms from Film Education pound;35 each www.filmeducation.orginteractive

What these interactive CD-Roms have in common is the facility to edit and create film supported by various resources. Each comes with Teacher's Notes as well as Student Information - printable resources that include background information as well as helpful proformas.

Phone Call and Red Shoes target A-level media studies, English, and information and communication technology students. Drama and theatre studies could be added as the emphasis on creating tension is useful. I can see these being used as an introduction to editing. Anyone who has seen the iMac facilities for this will understand how exciting this can be, with students being able to produce silent-movie clips with all kinds of effects.

Log on as a new user and you have all the resources you need. In all four CD-Roms, the student takes the role of the editor, selecting different rushes with the facility of recording a narration or with the poetry, accessing readings. There is parallel editing available where one piece can be edited alongside another that is happening at the same time and related to the first action. It all makes sense when you see it in front of you.

The good thing is that finding your way around is fairly straight forward, which is a relief if you are a novice. Click on the sound icon and the sounds available appear: clock ticking, phone ringing and so on. Click on the clips and a list appears. If you want to see the rushes together, then click on "movie".

What prevents this from being a search for the right answer is the list of the wider shots available - you are allowed to be more creative. This is a good thing, as it is a shame that, with so many modern effects, the movie clips used in Phone Call and Red Shoes appear old-fashioned - one woman waits for the phone to ring wearing an A-line skirt and sensible shoes, the other wears a rather dated two-piece with bright red shoes, walking through an office straight out of the 1980s. I wonder how much incentive boys will find here.

Perhaps they are better suited to the poetry CD-Roms where the images available aim to inspire creativity. There are samples of text from relevant poets: Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Walt Whitman, alongside which are black and white images of guns, recruits and barricades with sound to create an emotive and informative presentation. Hints relating to rhythm and intonation are included to support student analysis, but some comments are too general, such as "poets write in a very concentrated way; individual words are very important". This begs the question: why does this resource not include targeted differentiation?

As this is a resource for English it really should have a section on grammar and stylistic devices so more able students could be directed to, for example, the use of a definite article in contrast with the indefinite one that follows, using sound and images to draw attention to this.

An interesting follow-on activity would be to reflect on the impact of this manipulation for effect on the audience. However, resources such as the production log and the editing log certainly provide the teacher with readily accessible support materials appropriate for the task. Overall, learning something through creating a resource allows students to think independently and in a different way. I think these would prove useful.

Jane Christopher is deputy headteacher of Droitwich Spa High School

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