Harding Students Speak Their Minds In Images

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Mentor Artist Sophie Cooper writes about working with students at Harding Elementary in El Cerrito
From climate change to wildlife protection and the eternal quandary of the cuteness of cats, students at Harding Elementary share their ideas with their classmates as they present these visual stories as short “films.”  Developed over the course of an 8-week workshop, students learn the basics of visual storytelling, collect images from the internet and learn to compile the images into short films using highly-accessible computer software. The process walks students through the basics of film editing, introduces them to the workflow of the editing interface and empowers them with the primary tools of animating and adding text. Yet, beyond the technical skills, students lean to look critically at how the prevalence of  images around us are inserting meaning into our lives on a daily basis.  They learn to break down the story behind an images (such as an advertisement) and choose whether or not they agree with this story. Most importantly, the project got the students thinking about what are the stories they would like to be contributing to the conversation and empowered them with the tools to bring those stories to life.
One of the teachers from Harding wrote to me after the workshop and told me that she had overheard some of the students saying that they were going to try this again on their own over the summer. She wrote: “Perhaps you have inspired a new generation?”
Thank you to Harding 5th Grade teachers Karen Fisher and Kimberly Souza for outstanding collaboration!

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