Bulb Archived: Waters SCALE 2017-2018: Bradford & Oussenko

School Name: Waters

Teacher Name: Tommy Bradford

Teaching Artist Name: Nadia Ossenko

Big Idea:  film and community

Inquiry:  How does working together on a project help kids learn about responsibility, compromise, and collaborative art-making?

1. Planning: What interests and curiosities were brought to the planning by each of you? 

Teacher response: My interests come from this basic question, ” How can I get my students to use music more effectively?” Through this I can develop curiosities in students. My interests and curiosities include: Developing content, shaping and supporting it through music. 

Teaching Artist response: This year I’ve been interested in digging deeper into video installation-how can video be used as a light source to create an environment and how can sound play a role in this as well?  I’ve also been interested in developing more traditional aspects of movie making with the kids such as screenwriting and storyboarding. 

2. The Project: Tell the story of your project. What happened in the classroom? 

The project started of as an idea that was presented through ongoing dialogue with an outside source involved in. Nadia and I decided to move our project in this direction in order to develop a fresh approach for our movie class. In the classroom we developed our fundamental ideas and a continuing dialogue between the students, their assigned teams and instructors so that we can continuously develop our plan.

The project was to make a 90 second film for the Newberry film festival in which students had to adapt a Newberry-nominated book into a short film.  We went through and listed a number of roles the kids would choose from, from Director to screenwriter to costume designer to editor.  each student had to “pitch” which role they wanted and defend why they would be good at it.  Students then wrote down who they wanted on their team and teams were put together from that information.  They have been planning, storyboarding and now finally shooting their films.

3. How did you check in throughout the project to plan and adjust plans as the project unfolded? 

We noted in our project planning that challenging the students more was detrmental for this to work with requires more step in the entire planning process.

We’ve been checking in with each student by helping them get organized for their shoots and also did some practice shooting with them.  The roles of each person ended up being more of a collaborative process with everyone.  Aside from the actors, everyone had a say in how things were being planned and how things are being shot.  Right now we are a little challenged by the cold weather and kids missing classes or forgetting their costumes.  but we are slowly getting out of the rut of being stuck in “planning” mode.

4. What are the conflicts, contradictions or challenges of your teacher/artist collaboration? 

Teacher response: There aren’t many conflicts. We generally have the same path in mind for our students development.                                                 

Teaching Artist response: to be honest, there really aren’t any conflicts!  Perhaps our biggest challenge is that we are both so tired at the end of the day!  I’m concerned that our combined tiredness transfers over to the kids and we are not as excitable as we were in the past.  Also sometimes Tommy doesn’t charge the cameras and things get misplaced.

5. What are you learning as a result of collaborating with one another in terms of teaching and art making? 

Teacher response: I’m learning that consistent communication is necessary to stay productive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Teaching Artist response:  I’m learning to not take perfectionism so seriously!  I tend to forget that kids are kids, and this is an after school program and they should be having fun.  

6. How has the community-focused component of the project contributed to or challenged your teacher/artist collaboration? 

Teacher response: I don’t think the community focused component has had any effect on us personally. I think it has simply made us redirect different areas of our class in order to create a project that is consistent with the overall community ideology.

Teaching Artist response: I would say that the community-focused component is the actual Newberry project:  we have chosen to make this part of our curriculum and there is a deadline that is fast-approaching if we want to actually show these films in the festival.  I’m not sure how it has affected the teacher/artist collaboration but I do think that perhaps it is taking us into a more structured part of film that for me personally feels less free and experimental than what I would normally want to teach.  I feel that the music/sound component (tommy’s expertise) has not come into play yet and I would love to see that be part of this process more.  As I mentioned above, the kids are a bit in a rut, and I am sure that it has to do with the weather since most of our locations are being shot outside, also a community component, since the outdoor Waters community garden is a big location for each of the kids’ projects.