Education Blog

Using Filmmaking in Virtual Learning

By Craig Bach, ELA Teacher, Ossining High School, Ossining UFSD 05.01.20

When I was given the opportunity to teach Film & Literature as part of my curriculum, my immediate thought was that I need training on how to analyze and teach film. My first move was to contact Jacob Burns Film Center and enroll in their upcoming Image, Sound, and Story professional development courses. These courses not only helped me teach film, but taught me how to understand film in a way that I could portray to my students, forever changing the way I viewed digital media.

While this material has been invaluable to me in my classroom, the training and Jacob Burns educational material and lessons involved in the course have become an even more integral part of my curriculum now that we have moved to virtual learning in the time of Covid-19. The beautifully diverse articles, media, and projects that JB has compiled keeps myself and students engaged, and allows us to escape, in such an uncertain time.

The Grade 11/12 Setting lesson, "Look Deeper At Setting" has been particularly life saving in the past few weeks. With all of the rich material linked together, it has become incredibly easy to adapt these lessons to our class. Students have spent the past few weeks talking about the importance of setting as it changes those within it and will be diving even deeper with an analysis of George Mpanga's "My City". All of this analysis leads them into the perfectly planned out creating project in the curriculum where they will be incorporating everything they've learned to write a poem about their city in this time of Covid-19.

Here are a couple of the poems that my students wrote for the project:


"My town has a lot of faces however I see the same ones every day

All weekday nothing really seems to change nothing will ever appear strange

My town is quiet and fairly small I never fail to hear the sound of a fire truck

I smell grass, dirt, and flowers as I walk past these abandoned stores.

I feel peace from the quietness in my town but at the same time boredom

Nothing new ever really happens; it’s as if we are stuck on a balance

Not many stores to go too; which is why I sit and wonder about a better field of view

Welcome to my town, the ambiance is something you’ll get used to."


" My home has a lot of faces

Laughter and giggles is what makes my family tighter

Sad, mad, happy, and more to add

But going through it all with them makes me glad.

My home has a lot of faces

From running in the backyard to laying in bed without wanting to wake up

From smelling that sweet smell from the banana bread that mom makes to

Smelling that lasagna that I make

I can hear myself excitingly yelling

My home has a lot of faces ."