Children love film - it's the media of their generation. So it makes sense to teach visual literacy alongside reading and writing. For a while now I've been using the short film collections that the British Film Institute puts together for schools. They're incredibly useful, because each film tells a complete story in less than 10 minutes.
This course shows you how to use Magic DVD Ripper and MS Moviemaker to reshape films. You learn how to take scenes, or stills, out of a film and then edit or reorder them to suit your own purposes. So if you are looking at a particular character in a film, you can put together a sequence of key scenes.
It's much more dynamic than fumbling around trying to fast forward to the right bits. Moviemaker is free and Magic Ripper costs less than pound;30, so you don't need a big budget.
It's an ideal way to highlight narrative techniques such as flashback, and get children thinking about the way stories are told. You can introduce the idea through a film, perhaps one of the Harry Potter series, and then go on to compare that with books that also make use of flashback. By taking film as a starting point, children grasp the concept much more quickly.
Another great piece of software is Kahootz, which allows children to create stories quickly and easily, by giving them a choice of backgrounds and then letting them add characters to the scene. It's a very simple introduction to film-making. I'm always amazed how children who struggle with writing are able to produce great stories using Kahootz.
Maggie Last is a technology co-ordinator and literacy teacher at Wray Common Primary School in Reigate. She was talking to Steven Hastings
Build Your Own Short Film Resource, Thursday March 6, at the British Film Institute, London, pound;60