I had the opportunity to lead a Tabletop workshop with a group of teachers at the University of Washington Bothell campus. It is always a fun day when I get to work with a group of educators. This was an enthusiastic group who had football on their mind in the lead up to Seattle's Super Bowl game. This showed up in some fun ways in their movies. Beyond the fun of the workshop, we were able to connect the dots as to why Tabletop Moviemaking is great activity to bring into the classroom.
Authentic encounters with the writing process, reading scripts, small group work and loads of visual learning are just some of the reasons Tabletop works well in the classroom.
I had a little over 2 hours to take the group through the 5 verbs: write, build, shoot, edit and share. Writing and building are hands-on activities that highlight our tactile, tangible and visual intelligences. These two verbs place the iPad off to the side and center on non-electricity bound learning experiences (fancy way to say paper, glue, scissors and markers also honor our intelligences). In small group work we read each others facial reactions, posture and gestures as we collaboratively define a working script. Tabletop is genuinely collaborative in this sense as the story takes shape and some ideas gain traction while others are discarded.
Shoot, edit and share are firmly in the digital domain with iPad being the technology we use to frame and share the story. The iPad's camera captures the story and the screen becomes a window into the world the teachers just created out of paper and will animate with their voices. One camera operator directed the group of actors reading the script and controlling the characters. Once in the iPad the group swiped, tapped, pinched and zoomed their way through a variety of touch screen gestures associated with editing the video inside iMovie. Very quickly, each group arrived a rough cut short film. We dimmed the lights and focused our attention at the front of the classroom to view the finished videos. The importance of sharing cannot be underestimated in a classroom, this is the public acknowledgment of the group's work and it places their stories on a pedestal saying, "Your voice matters."
In our program, we explore questions of what it means to be “literate” in today’s world. A big part of that of us is working with teacher candidates to develop their own media literacies so that they’ll be able to teach their students how to “read”, critique, and-- perhaps most importantly --to create multimedia. We try hard to always put the questions of what might be learned from an activity ahead of the questions of what tech to use.
The Tabletop Moviemaking workshop brought all of this together is such a unique way. The teacher candidates learned that the “tech” was there is the support of writing, creative storytelling, and visual literacy. When we debriefed, they began to immediately see how these sorts of projects could be use for complex assessments, for drawing on the strengths of all learners, for supporting community building. It was excellent.
"I imagine I would have my students prepare a written script to perform. Once I approve the script, the students will be able to draw their high quality characters and scenery. They will then practice the scenes to prepare for filming. By practicing the scenes, they will be practicing their reading. After they film, we will go over editing and show their final movie to the class. I love how this creative activity includes writing, reading, teamwork, and lets the students tap into their creativity in many ways."