P.S. 304, Bx. has implemented a “cluster” program wherein small groups of students meet with various teachers every Friday for 1 hour and 30 minutes to explore areas of interest.
The clusters are designed to be student-centered and student-directed with guidance from the cluster teachers.
Our clusters are Lights! Camera! Action! and Video Magic. I, Anthony DeGennaro, am the teacher for Lights! Camera! Action! Millie DeGennaro is the teacher for Video Magic.
The basic premise for Lights! Camera! Action! was to provide opportunities for students to analyze, explore, and develop three of the primary purposes for writing: information, persuasion, and entertainment. Students would then translate these three purposes for writing into videographic projects.
Video Magic was introduced as an opportunity for students to learn about computer video editing techniques and, as such, Lights! Camera! Action! and Video Magic combined their efforts to produce the students’ video projects.
There was much commingling of talents between the two clusters, with Lights! Camera! Action! students getting involved in many of the technical aspects of computer editing, and Video Magic students participating in the writing, acting, directing, and videotaping processes.
The students took immediate and enthusiastic ownership of the clusters, and were more than willing to give up their lunch period three to five times a week for more than four months in order to complete their video productions.
Students demonstrated improved writing skills, awareness of identifying and analyzing target audiences, and writing specifically for those target audiences for the three purposes of information, persuasion, and entertainment.
They developed their computer technology skills, learned computer editing techniques, and learned how to employ these skills and techniques in creative and imaginative ways.
The students worked cooperatively and witnessed firsthand how specialization of skills and teamwork can result in a finished product of which they could all be proud.
They have presented “sneak previews” on the big screen at monthly assemblies, and have saturated the school hallways with their own print advertising for the big event.
The result of their efforts is a video compilation of their own news broadcast (of school events), their own commercial (for the school store), and a feature film which they entitled “Some Movie.”
The video compilation will be presented as a “red carpet” event with all the pomp and ceremony we can muster on Wednesday, January 27, 2009.