Powerful Voices- Russell Byers Charter School

I was very excited to work with a very inspiring group of 12 years olds who are attending the Russell Byers Charter School. Powerful Voices is a Media Literacy summer camp offered to the students. I worked with 7 kids on the ‘Gold Team’ for a 5 hour session. Dave Moore, the instructor, and a classmate of mine at Temple documented the entire session, so more video to come.

Since this group is working on environmental issues, particularly green roofs, we started out by watching a few short films on this general topic. The Secret Life of Paper is a good short educational doc about recycling and paper production and use. We discussed what the messages were and how the images used helped support and convey those messages. We followed that by an experimental music video by my friend Jon Shibata, in which he rephotographed images from an old children’s science book he found at a recycling center and edited it to music in imovie. Surprisingly the students found the editing too fast for their liking, but it was useful to demonstrate how still images and books can be repurposed and animated, a technique they may choose to use in their own work. We didn’t have time to show Recycle which is another quiet piece I enjoy (check it out). We then did the classic ‘Power of Nightmares’ lesson, in which I show the first minute of the opening without sound, and we talked about the ideas the images convey. They tried to guess what the themes of the film are based on this opening selection. Overall it was useful to get them thinking about images, metaphors and visual meaning.

During lunch we sent them out on the image scavenger hunt. In the afternoon we brainstormed topics for 3 short videos and agreed on recycling at the school, green roofs and pollution. An important part of this process was discussing what kinds of images we would film and how to find creative solutions to illustrate broad ideas. They story boarded with this aspect in mind first, and then followed with the narration. All the videos and the lesson from today should be posted within the coming week!

Here is a short video documenting the process of the day:

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