Media Academy is about projects. Each quarter, we take the themes and concepts from our Social Studies and English Language Arts course work, and we try to find something to investigate, explore, and finally create.
As an educational team we juggle a variety of competing pedagogical values when we design projects. We believe that all project work should include:
- a strong research and creative planning process that leads into the actual production
- a balance between educational need and student choice
- high standards of academic rigor
- explicit requirements for team management, organization, communication
In and around all of this is also our core belief that education–school–should be fun. We’ve found that we can accomplish four project blocks each year, work very hard doing it, and have a great time doing difficult work.
Early in the year, we create several “mini” projects. These are designed to teach students the technical skills they need to master in order to create larger, more complex productions later in the year. Mini projects also focus on learning the interpersonal, communication, and organizational habits and systems that make the hard work of team production possible. Examples of mini projects from 2014-15 include writing and creating a video-taped interview with one of our Founding Fathers, and creating a video ad for Big Brother in 1984.
After that, the students move into much more complex and large scale production projects. Each year we focus one large scale documentary project involving community interaction and research; the second large scale project is generally focused on narrative technique and entertainment. Large projects for 2014-15 were the CAP–a Civic Action Project and Hard Times in TV Land. For the CAP, students identified a civic change they wanted to make, researched the issue, and attempted to make or motivate change. They then produced a documentary of this process focused on their own investigation. Hard Times in TV Land asked student groups to identify a popular TV show, take a concept from their Economics course, and use the dynamics of an economic principle as the basis of a plot for the show. Our last project of the year is the creation of a Graphic Novel based on one of the major work we have studied this year.
Each of the two large video projects also includes a student hosted event in SRHS’s Hayse Theatre to which friends, family and the community are invited. Student work is also posted to this site.