Making Curriculum Pop

Literacy Through Video Narratives: Reflection on Catherine Gourley's presentation by Alex Jones

I truly enjoyed Catherine Gourley's presentation as she began with the amazing principal that film is more than an industry, more than just celebrities and stories, it is a language. This concept is not widely known especially throughout the younger generation. Misconceptions can be generated from media especially through film. Catherine explained how she uses the teaching strategy of allowing her students to read a book as well as watch the movie for which was based on the book. She feels the movie and/or the book helps to decode the content. She presented several different videos though one in particular which stood out was her teaching of the Cold War. She presented the film clip “Duck and Cover” which was created by the U.S. government in the 1950’s and explained what one was to do if she/he heard the atom bomb warning siren.

The main point Catherine Gourley was addressing is that it is one thing to teach about the Cold War from text books, though when films, documentaries and other visual media exist, why not use these as teaching tools.
Catherine spent some time explaining the different techniques of Literary vs. Cinematic, as well as what are cinematic devices?

The following are examples from her presentation:

I studied Film and Video in undergrad and these concepts and understandings were taught very well. Unfortunately I was not introduced to them until that time. I feel it would have been valuable to have been giving a better understanding and/or study of the true techniques and misconceptions that are and will forever be a part of media in general which surrounds us today. Furthermore, using visual elements to aid in presentations, or teaching I feel and I am sure Catherine would agree, are essential for instructors today. The idea of sitting at a chair in a brick and mortar environment and starring at the teacher is “old-school”. Students need to be taken places and see for themselves how things operate, are created and so much more especially for schools in New York City. The available museums and exhibits are mind-blowing. The hands-on concept is real and instructors need to take advantage of that teaching technique.

In addition to the previous topic discussed Catherine addressed media literacy in general. This hot topic is being studied now more than ever before. I feel this topic is advancing due to the research being performed on how the brain interprets images and differentiates visuals from text, sound, and touch. A substantial part of this research has and is being conducted even here at Teachers College using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Not to dive into the medical terms, but this process allows us to monitor brain activity in real time allowing the potential for simultaneous augmentation of learning. Basically the proof is in the pudding. Studies have shown that students using more combination's of visuals and texts learn more than those who only use text. The following diagram explains somewhat of how humans tend to comprehend. Please do note that this data is unsubstantiated and I only want to show what misconceptions do and do not exist.

Overall Catherine Gourley's presentation was fascinating as she touched on a real of different topics with regards to visuals and learning. I do feel that with the tools available such as digital video cameras, digital still cameras, computers and software it does not make sense NOT to use any of these. I remember doing my first video project in 7th grade. Being one of seven in my class I was fortunate to have some equipment available. I do not want to date myself, though I will tell you that I was using reel-to-reel as non-linear if existed at all then, was definitely in its infancy. The point I am trying to make is that these tools need to be provided to the students. It is extremely easy to use the excuse that funding is not available. There are plenty of sources available for obtaining equipment and software, sometimes for free. I work in a Harlem school and was amazed as to the amount of kits, equipment etc. can be obtained if one puts their mind to it. It is up to the educator to initiate these searching of resources.

The following video reminded me of the turtle “duck and cover” video from earlier in this reflection. Being from somewhat of the same time period I feel presenting these types of videos in classrooms to allow students to truly see and reflect for themselves the changes that occur over time.

MAIN LINK to similar videos

Interesting links:

Global Action Project: Youth Making Media

Educational Video Center

The Story of Movies

Interesting Reads:

Press Enter to “Say”: Using Second Life to Teach Critical Media Literacy

The Media-Savvy Student: Teaching Media Literacy Skills, Grades 2-6:
by: Guofang Wan, and Hong Cheng

Media Literacy is Elementary: Teaching Youth to Critically Read and Create Media
by: Jeff Share

Teaching Media Literacy through Video Production
by: Melda N. Yildiz

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Replies to This Discussion

Hey Alex,

EVC does such great work, I am glad you put a link up here! Dr. Powers brought up an interesting point about levels of involvement with digital tools.
Dear Alex,

Hey! And, what a terrific post! I really admire how you offer here such terrific, replete resources for educative media implementation in complement to the ethics of Dr. Powers' presentation. The link to other Coronet Instructional Films is terrific. A particularly interesting one is "The Fun of Being Thoughtful". I agree with you and Dr. Powers' that these films can be used in the classroom to critically examine the social milieu in 1950's America. This can provoke divergent societal evaluation of (i.e.) gender relations, citizenship relationship to structures of authority, identities of civic participation and socialized mores of appropriate behavior, i.e. respect of others and socially conceived etiquette.

Also, thank you for this:

I work in a Harlem school and was amazed as to the amount of kits, equipment etc. can be obtained if one puts their mind to it. It is up to the educator to initiate these searching of resources.

I think this is an important share to remind educators and those involved in the education system that it is up to these individuals to see through the changes they envision for their schools. As Maxine Greene mentioned yesterday in my Education & the Aesthetic Experience seminar, those impassioned about educational improvement need to "repair the deficiencies one by one", but should not give up the cause to make a learning context a better place for children.

Dear Alex,

I would like to resubmit my document describing Maxine's seminar in pdf format. Here you go!

Hey Alex! Nice post! I too studies film before and was impressed by how well the concepts were presented in this presentation. Like you, I wish I had learned some of this stuff back in elementary school instead of having to wait until I was a college student. I remember very well how amazed I was the first time I saw a professor really break down a scene to reveal hidden meanings. It was a bit of a revelation to me just how much information is contained in one film still, whether the director put it there on purpose or not! I think younger kids would love to know about this stuff.



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