This is one of my favorite short films to teach for a multitude of reasons. First, it requires students and teachers to flex their visual thinking /literacy abilities. Simultaneously, it works on all those traditional (and essential) literacy skillslike making connections, inferring, determining importance and synthesizing. Additionally, it gives occasion to talk about evolution, environment and the affordances and limitations of genetics as well as universal themes like goals, dreams, sacrifice and - essential to understanding the film - POINT OF VIEW!
Give the short a watch without reading ahead ...
You probably have some questions, right? Should you decide to use this film it is essential for you to show it multiple times without any background information on Kiwis! The students need a chance to uncover the short with tools like the Media Circles my mom and I created (shameless plug - book coming soon).
I had seen the film years ago but just this spring I came across an excellent short companion text about Kiwis in the Nature Conservancy Magazine. Unfortunately, the article was not available online. I wrote the author, Nature Conservancy lead scientist and CBS News contributor Sanjayan (very cool to see a scientist pulling off the one name thing like Bono or Madonna) to see if a digital version of the text was available. Sanjayan and he said the Nature Conservancy would be thrilled to share a PDF of the article with teachers (see attached below). Here is a highlight for those curious about the film:
I first encountered the kiwi as a 5-year-old while trailing my dad as he went about his morning ritual. There it was, the silhouette of a little bird, stamped on the tin of his black shoe polish. The image vaguely resembled a squat chicken except for the curiously long beak. I imagined the creature had something to do with the making of shoe polish. Whatever it was, I was fascinated by it.
Decades later, with a speaking obligation as an excuse, I finally have arrived in New Zealand—flying almost 8,000 miles to see this flightless bird.
I didn't know a lot about Sanjayan until I reached out to him but his bio, publications and videos are quite impressive. Thank you Sanjayan and the Nature Conservancy!
He had not seen the short before. Acting the part of a scientist from central casting he was a stickler for detail saying:
I did watch the short – very funny, liked the tear drop coming off the kiwi. Only quibble I had is that the eyes are too big (they really have small eyes and bristles around the eyes and nose – the make their way more by smell than sight). But I liked it!
Excellent! I hope you too enjoy the article and the short film.
Here is a bonus clip of Sanjayan on Letterman talking about Climate Change...