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A new tool to integrate language arts, technology and art

Brick Maier

Hello Edutopia middle school educators. I have been using this site for ideas and resources for a number of years, and now I am excited to finally be able to offer something back.

I am a former middle school teacher working in Los Angeles who left the classroom to tinker and build a movie making kit based on the lessons I learned integrating video into my classroom lessons.

I received a Fulbright grant in Ireland to conduct research on how to better integrate digital video in formal and non formal learning environments. The resulting method is decidedly low tech, but it works. My model was to keep it as simple as chalk. It is a bit more complex than that. But not much! Plus after 5 years of refining method I can confidently say that it works in real world classrooms with 30+ students.

It is called Tabletop Moviemaking and it shrinks the entire production process of making a movie onto a table. The movies change settings (locations) with the flip of a spiralbound set of backgrounds. And our actors are 3 inch tall paper characters. This simplifies the process and speeds it up. We can usually make 3 two minute movies in an hour in a typical classroom with one camera and one computer.

I am based in Los Angeles and recently completed a year long artist in residence program with the LA Opera. I worked with a Sophomore English teacher from Garfield High School (of Jaime Escalante fame) to adapt themes from an opera into short animated films.

Here is a link to an overview of the project complete with photos, videos and student movies. http://www.tabletopmedia.org/?page_id=36

My hope is that the page spurs you into thinking about how the kit and method could be adapted and used in your context. I think Edutopia is the perfect place to exchange ideas for this resources the integrates technology, art and writing.

I look forward to comments!

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4th grade STEM teacher from Richfield, Minnesota

Love this Idea!

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I really appreciate your sharing this idea. It can be used not only in language arts, but in every discipline. Students could be scientists explaining their experiements, tour guides in geography, animals in various stages of life cycles, a seed sprouting, a historical figure placed in a variety of settings-just a variety of ways this tool can be used!

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