Education Blog

Lost in Conversation and Creation

By Karolina Manko, Communications Manager 07.21.15

Day two of our Summer Teachers Institute was busy, busy, busy! The day was spent in deep conversation as well as engaged in hands-on-activities. Each strand presenter spent the morning giving educators the opportunity to talk with one another about the big ideas that would go on to inform the day. Teachers discussed everything from classroom project ideas to racial relations in our modern culture, and even shared some incredible personal stories.

The Digital Storytelling strand, led by JBFC Faculty member Darrel Swann, focused on classroom resources and worked on brainstorming projects for students that encouraged critical thinking through media making. After sharing ideas and tools, the group broke up into small teams and went to work on a series of projects that have been piloted and proven successful in our Media Arts Lab and in classrooms throughout Westchester County. Each team was assigned a different project: the personal narrative, a portrait of a place, a digital poem, and a traveling exhibit. The afternoon was spent screening everyone's work and collaboratively discussing ways the educators could recreate these projects in their own classrooms.

The Race and Representation strand, led by JBFC Faculty member Theresa Dawson and Peter Nelson, the Program Associate from Facing History and Ourselves, also spent the day deep in conversation. Discussing the modern reality of race-relations, the group talked about how matters of history and politics inform educational policies and function in classrooms throughout the country. Twenty-first century education is undeniably about becoming familiar with the technological landscape; however that landscape has been shaped and molded by a large, often racially-divided, culture. To get to the heart of how race influences education, the teachers watched film clips and shorts, discussed the tension between what they should teach and what they can teach, examined social media trends, and spent time in small groups working on thoughtful approaches to teaching students in a racially-divided society.

The Early Literacy: Family Stories strand, led by JBFC Storyteller Bill Gordh, approached the conversation of media education on their feet. The group told stories and folktales, storyboarded ideas for their own family tales, and eventually went to work on iPads making those stories into quick videos. Shot-by-shot the teachers discussed how sequence and succession inform the plot and eventual impact of a story. The day wrapped up with a screening of their own short films which featured original artwork, impressive pantomime, and even creative make-shift costumes.

Tomorrow the group will be screening Stray Dog, and the mystery of Sherlock Holmes will be revealed! Stay tuned.