Recording history: Fourth-grade Cinema Club creates Arizona Centennial documentary
Fourth-grade students at Abia Judd Elementary School have been honing their computer skills while creating a video documentary about the Arizona Centennial.
Emily Reber created an image of the Arizona flag to add to the documentary. A member of the school's Cinema Club, Emily likes video editing best.
"This taught me how to put together a movie and work on the computer," Emily said. "I used to be lost, but not anymore."
Emily and the other Cinema Club members worked hard on the documentary, which featured student-shot and -edited video of Centennial events, field trips, school activities, and community history, according to Ben Jacobson, Cinema Club adviser and fourth-grade teacher.
"The students interviewed people and took video at the Centennial Celebration, on their field trip to the Grand Canyon, their statehood day assembly presentations, a field trip to Sharlot Hall, as well as footage of students in the Secret Garden at school, and other interesting events in the community," Jacobson said.
With the fourth-grade social studies curriculum focus on Arizona geography, history, and government - and having one of the statewide Centennial celebrations being held in Prescott - it was "a unique opportunity for fourth-grade students to become historians by recording these events and creating a video documentary," wrote teacher Dee Yeager in her team's proposal for Salt River Project's Social Studies Learning grant.
Salt River Project awarded the teaching team a grant of nearly $2,000 that allowed them to buy four Flip videocameras, four digital cameras and memory cards, four flash drives, video editing software, and a high-capacity backup computer drive so students could create a documentary movie.
"The primary goal of this project is to promote interest in history by involving all fourth-grade students in recording events to create a historical record, teach that history unrecorded can mean history lost, help students recognize that history includes personal stories and public events, and encourage students to continue an interest in history," Yeager said.
Student Anthony Politi said he enjoyed making stills to put between the videos in their big movie, and "we learned a lot of new stuff from Mr. Jacobson, he's a good teacher."
Shooting scenes with action for the documentary is what student Matthew Zajk said he liked best.
Student Jake Torres said it was a lot of work editing the video, and creating still images to put between the video scenes, but he learned a lot from the other members of the club.
"It's like putting together a puzzle," Anthony said.
The students met with personal and historical journal keepers, learned how news reporters and photographers choose stories, and became familiar with all aspects of movie-making, then edited and created their finished documentary in the after-school club, said teacher Shelli Read.
To evaluate how learning may have been enhanced by work on the documentary, teachers will compare an assessment of fourth-grade students' knowledge of Arizona historical events given at the beginning of the year with one given at the end, Yeager said. Those results will be compared to similar assessments given to fourth-graders last year and fifth-graders this year.